When humane agents arrived at the suburban Lancaster home of a well-known Chow-Chow breeder yesterday they found 90 dogs kept in horrendous conditions, crammed in filthy crates surrounded by trash that filled every space. They found emaciated dogs, badly matted dogs and dogs writhing in pain from badly broken legs. They even found the decomposing bodies of two dead dogs.
And then, amid it all there were some well-groomed dogs that looked like they were ready for the show ring.
"The place was swimming in dogs," said Kerry Flanagan, vice president of operations for The Humane League of Lancaster County. "Some had major medical problems and some were beautiful."
Flanagan said neighbors had complained for months about conditions and noise at the house belonging to Teri Palmer-Roby, who ran Pendragwn Chow Chow kennel and rescue. The state Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement arrived yesterday to investigate and after being refused entry, obtained a warrant to search the premises.
Humane League staff said they could barely navigate the maze of crates and junk throughout the house and garage. Flanagan said the thick coats of many of the dogs were severely matted and caked with urine and feces. A number of dogs were in need of medical care and at least one dog, in severe distress with two broken back legs, may have to be euthanized, she said.
Palmer-Roby surrendered the dogs to the Humane League and is facing multiple counts of animal cruelty for the living conditions and failure to get veterinary medical care, Flanagan said. Efforts to reach Palmer Roby were unsuccessful. A Department of Agriculture spokesman said she also will receive citations for dog law violations but the specific charges had not yet been determined.
Palmer-Roby was a fixture on the dog show circuit several years ago and had at least one champion Chow Chow, said Carrie Voorhees of Bear Creek Chows in Tennessee. Voorhees said she had been told by other breeders, who had been to Palmer-Roby's house, that there were "too many dogs in her basement." But she said she was surprised that the situation had deteriorated so badly. "People were aware she had some problems in recent years, but her heart was in the right place." Palmer-Roby's name and contact information also appears on national breed rescue Web sites.
Daisy Okas, vice president of communications for the American Kennel Club, said Palmer-Roby had registered litters with the club in 2003 and 2007. After learning of the conditions of the dogs in Palmer-Roby's care, Okas said her registration privileges will be suspended pending outcome of the case.
Flanagan said individuals who co-owned some of the show quality dogs came to retrieve them. The others will be placed for adoption after undergoing medical screening and treatment.
Information about the dogs and their adoption status will be posted on the league's website, www.humaneleague.com . Donations to care for the Chow Chows and other animals at the Humane League can be made online or by contacting the shelter at (717) 393-6551.