Update: License revoked, kennel owner flees with dogs

UPDATE: A Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement spokesman tells us that Autumnbriar kennel owner Lauren Wolfe surrendered 27 dogs last Thursday to the Luzerne County SPCA. When the Pennsylvania State Police arrived the next day to investigate possible cruelty charges, Wolfe had fled with the remaining 20 dogs.

Pennsylvania dog breeders have done some strange - even horrific - things when they come under scrutiny by authorities.

In Lancaster County, breeder Ervin Zimmerman led humane officers on a foot chase around his Ephrata farm last year while they were trying to investigate cruelty charges.

In the shots-heard-round-the-world incident last August, Berks County breeder Elmer Zimmerman killed his entire kennel - 80 small breed dogs - rather than get flea treatment as ordered by dog wardens.

Now there's the strange case of Autumnbriar kennel owner Lauren Wolfe in Dumore, in the northeastern section of the state.

Wolfe was under orders to surrender 20 Jack Russell dogs to an area SPCA on Thursday, but, according to the Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice newspaper, when dog wardens and the Pennsylvania State Police returned on Friday she had fled with the dogs. 

The SPCA of Luzerne County was expecting to receive the dogs after the raid at the Sullivan County kennel, but the raid went awry and the owner and the dogs are now at large, executive director Vince Sweeney told the newspaper.

Word of Wolfe's fugitive status had not apparently reached Harrisburg. The Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement which revoked her kennel license after a series of unsatisfactory inspections, used the new dog law to obtain a search warrant and seize the dogs, said spokesman Chris Ryder yesterday.

It was unclear exactly how many dogs Wolfe fled with. Ryder said she voluntarily turned over 27 dogs, leaving her with 21 dogs. (A kennel license is required if a breeder has more than 25 dogs.)

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 Wolfe had housed unneutered and unspayed dogs together.

In November, inspection reports show, there were 91 dogs on the property.

Wolfe is facing multiple citations for operating an unlicensed kennel and is under investigation on cruelty charges, said Ryder.

Philly Dawg wonders if there are fugitive provisions under the new dog law as well.