Dog breeders sue welfare groups, anti-chaining activist to appeal

Six Lancaster County dog breeders have filed a federal lawsuit against two Philadelphia animal welfare groups over the purchase of dogs at an auction last October. 

The breeders allege that the Pennsylvania SPCA and Main Line Animal Rescue (MLAR) of Chester Springs conspired to violate their civil rights when they purchased 12 dogs at an Ohio auction (including the poodle pictured above) and charged them with animal cruelty in Lancaster County, according to a report in today's Lancaster Sunday News.

The charges were later dropped apparently, according to the complaint provided to the Sunday News, at the insistence of asssistant district attorney David Dye. (District Attorney Craig Stedman was earlier quoted in this newspaper saying that he only "recommended" the PSPCA withdraw the charges.) 

The breeders' attorney said the dogs were given a clean bill of health by veterinarian Willard Stoltzfus of Black Horse Animal Hospital in Gap and a U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinarian at the auction. However veterinarians working with the animal welfare groups, one of whom was at the auction and others who examined them in Pennsylvania, said the dogs suffered from serious and painful illnesses, such as skin and eye infections and severe periodontal disease. 

MLAR founder Bill Smith - who says his group spent $30,000 to treat the dogs - lays out his version of events on a new Website.

Meanwhile, Altoona- area dog anti-chaining activist Tamira Thayne says she will appeal her conviction last week in Cambria County on a trespassing charge that resulted after she said she tried to help two dogs suffering in the cold.

Thayne, founder of Dogs Deserve Better, was found guilty by District Court Judge Galen Decort on Tuesday.

Thayne said she twice went on the property in Lilly where two dogs - one of them an underweight, short-coated Boxer - were kept on chains in sub-freezing temperatures without proper housing, bedding or food or water. Thayne said the first time she brought straw, food and water and saw no one. The second time the owner appeared and told her to leave, which she said she did. (According to the law, a person must be told to leave twice before being charged.)

Yesterday Thayne lamented the fact she had two witnesses, videotape documenting her activity, but was still convicted and ordered to pay a fine and court costs totalling $167. She said she will appeal the conviction in Cambria County Court this week.

"Dogs are treated like they're nothing so often," said Thayne, who maintains a "Wall of Shame" page on her Website with images of dogs on chains throughout Pennsylvania. "Someone's got to fight for them."

Thayne's group just finished their annual Valentine's Day campaign, sending out 15,000 cards to owners of dogs living on chains around the country with an appeal to bring them inside.