Animal crime and court blotter

There will be no jury trial in New Jersey for Lancaster County puppy broker Joyce Stoltzfus, her husband Raymond and Chester County veterinarian Tom Stevenson. The parties reached a settlement in Cape May County Court on Monday, the day jury selection was to take place in the consumer fraud trial. Plaintiffs Lewis and Stephanie Ostrander, who live in New Jersey, sued the Stoltzfuses after purchasing a sick puppy in 2006. The puppy, a Labrador-poodle mix, later died from parvo virus. The Ostranders spent thousands to save him and additional money to replace bedding and rugs that had to be thrown out because of the highly contagious nature of the disease.  Stevenson was named in the suit because he was the veterinarian for CC Pets and provided health certificates for almost 2,000 puppies sold that year. All parties were ordered not to divulge details of the settlement. "It was resolved in amicable terms," said Garen Meguerian, a Chester County attorney who represented the Ostranders. In unrelated action, CC Pets (formerly known as Puppy Love) was ordered closed for six months by a Commonwealth Court judge in April who also fined the Stoltzfuses $166,000 for violating terms of a 2005 consent petition with the Attorney General.  Stevenson, of Twin Valley Veterinary Clinic in Honey Brook, had his veterinary medical license suspended by the state pending the outcome of  his trial on animal cruelty charges in Lancaster County Court.

Also in New Jersey, SPCA officials yesterday raided a home in Middletown and rescued 80 dogs, many of them sick. Dog breeds included Basset hounds, a blue-nose pit bull terrier, a handful of Dachshunds, and mainly Chihuahuas. Authorities told the Asbury Park Press that the house was "a nightmare inside" and "littered with dog feces and urine." They said one dog was found in the oven. Marlene Sandford, 56, was charged with 85 counts of animal cruelty, with each count liable to a $1,000 fine, though her charges may be reduced because she signed over the dogs to the SPCA.

An 8-week-old kitten is recovering at the Delaware County SPCA after being shot by a bb gun. Concerned neighbors in Chester spotted the kitten hiding under bushes and called animal control. An x-ray showed the bb pellet lodged in her neck. The kitten was too young for it to be removed right away, SPCA officials told WPVI-TV, who added she have some vision loss, but otherwise is expected to recover. Meanwhile Delaware County SPCA is asking anyone with any information on the incident to contact them at

Humane authorities raided a flooded residence near Williamsport yesterday and removed 34 sick animals, most of them rabbits. Humane Officer Larry Woltz, with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told the Sun-Gazette of Williamsport many of the rabbits were emaciated, some had ear and skin infections. They also removed two goats. Wolz also said he saw what he believes to be illicit drugs and deplorable living conditions for the residents, who included two young girls. The case involving the children was referred to child services. Animal cruelty charges are expected to be filed against the owner who was not named.