101 Labs in limbo in Lehighton

Labrador lovers in several states are scrambling to care for and identify 101 dogs left stranded when the operator of the Pennsylvania kennel where they were housed was thrown in jail.

Patricia Gadaleta, of Lehighton, a breeder of champion Labrador Retrievers, was jailed Thursday after she was unable to post a $30,000 bond on several charges, including theft by deception and writing bad checks.

Gadaleta pleaded guilty to forgery, theft by deception and receiving stolen property on 2008. In 2003 she was found not guilty of animal cruelty.

Now Gadaleta may face new animal cruelty charges connected to the 101 dogs and 9 purebred cats she left behind last week, authorities said. 

Sarah Thornton, a veterinarian and Labrador breeder who responded to the call for help, said she has "seen better" kennel facilities and seen animals in worse condition. She said some of Gadaleta's dogs suffered from dental and ear disease and that some of the older dogs had health issues that could require them to be put down.

"The dogs are extremely well bred with very good temperaments," said Thornton, who operates Schuylkill Veterinary Hospital in Pottsville.

Law enforcement officials, veterinarians and other volunteers went to Musket Kennel Saturday after Gadaleta's husband said he would not care for the dogs, Thornton said.

The dogs, which included a litter of week-old puppies, do not all belong to Gadaleta. Some were co-owned with other show breeders and some were on site for breeding, according to Thornton. Gadaleta had been licensed with the state Department of Agriculture since 2004 and received generally positive inspection reports every year, although she was warned repeatedly about not keeping proper records. She pleaded guilty to charges of failing to obtain a kennel license in 2003.

Now the absence of records is creating a major problem for rescuers trying to identify the kennel full of yellow, black and chocolate Labs. Thornton said Gadaleta told authorities she wanted to keep 30 dogs and would relinquish the others. But without records or tags, Thornton said, she and others cannot determine the identity and ownership of the dogs.

"We don't know which 30 not to take," said Thornton.

She said about 30 percent are microchipped and will be able to be identified through the microchipping service.

Internet sales ads placed by Gadaleta for her puppies identify her as an American Kennel Club breeder.