A Sullivan County kennel operator is facing multiple counts of animal cruelty after State Police found as many as 30 dead animals, including the decomposing bodies of 21 dogs during two raids last week, according to the Pennsylvania State Police.
Five surviving dogs were sent to the SPCA of Luzerne County where they are being treated for parasite infestation.
Troopers and state dog wardens obtained a search warrant Thursday to investigate conditions at Autumnbriar kennel owned by Laura Antretter in Dushore and found the bodies of six dogs. At that time Antretter surrendered 27 dogs, mostly Jack Russell terriers, who were sent to a shelter in neighboring Wayne County. Authorities said they returned Friday with a search warrant to conduct a further investigation and found 15 more dead dogs. Antretter had fled the property.
The dead dogs were found in various states of decomposition strewn about the wooded property and in wood crates, said Chris Ryder a spokesman with the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. The cause of their deaths is under investigation, he said.
At the time of the last state inspection in November, there were 91 dogs in the kennel. It was unclear how many dogs, if any, Antretter took with her when she fled.
There were as many as nine other dead animals, including cats on the property, police said.
State police Trooper Thomas Blair said he had not yet met with the district attorney to file charges and there was no warrant issued yet for Antretter's arrest.
On her Website, Antretter said she was committed to "the preservation of old world canines" and had been breeding dogs, Jack Russell terriers, Atlas Terriers and Lurchers, for 22 years. Autumnbriar was the only licensed kennel in Sullivan County, located in a remote region of northeastern Pennsylvania.
Antretter, who was also known as Lauren Wolfe, received a kennel license in 2007 after she was cited by dog wardens for operating illegal kennel. Conditions went downhill in 2008 which led to the revocation of her license, Ryder said.
Court records indicate Antretter received 15 citations for unsafe and unsanitary conditions and failure to produce rabies vaccination records between 2005 and December 2008.
Four inspection reports in 2008 reveal widespread problems at the kennel, including pens with sharp wire edges, filthy water and food bowls, feces-filled cages, poor drainage and no health or sales records. Inspection reports also indicate Antretter housed unneutered and unspayed dogs together which can provoke fighting and indiscriminate breeding.
Pictures posted on Antretter's web site depict pastoral scenes of dogs, goats and horses around a pond, while another shows rows of cages of Jack Russells stacked three high with dogs crammed inside. Television footage of the property taped after the raid show rows of wood crates outside a house.
Vincent Sweeney, executive director of the SPCA of Luzerne County, said the five surviving dogs are "loaded with worms" but are otherwise doing well. One dog suffered from lacerations on his leg, likely from standing in an undersized cage, he said. Sweeney said Antretter contacted the shelter by cell phone today and that he is hoping she will surrender the dogs in his shelter's care and any others in her possession.