A federal judge has tossed out a suit by a Philadelphia dog breeder who alleges animal welfare officers violated her civil rights when they raided her Bassett Hound kennel in 2009.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge William Yohn last week blocking Wendy Willard from moving forward with her lawsuit against the Pennsylvania SPCA, said Willard "failed to allege a plausible claim for her deprivation of rights constitutional rights."
Yohn also wrote that Willard failed to state her claim for violation of the Fourth Amendment right prohibiting unreasonable search and seizure.
Willard accused officers of illegally seizing her 11 of her 23 dogs after conducting what she described as an illegal search warrant and for trespassing during surveillance of Murder Hollow Bassetts in the Roxborough section of the city. Ten of the dogs were adopted through rescue groups working with the PSPCA. The eleventh dog died during a botched surgery, according to court documents.
The July 2009 criminal complaint charged Willard with multiple counts of animal cruelty for failing to properly care for the animals that it said were living in filth and covered in fleas.
Cruelty charges were dropped in 2010 after Willard agreed to surrender the animals, keep her dog population below the city limit of 12 and allow regular inspections of her kennel.
That was when Willard, celebrated within the sporting dog community, which rallied to her defense, turned around and sued the law enforcement officers.
The suit was brought by the law firm of Clymer, Musser, Brown of Lancaster which bills itself as the go-to firm dog breeders and owners in trouble with law enforcement. The firm, whose principle, Jim Clymer, incidentally is the 2012 U.S. vice presidential candidate for the Constitution Party, has tried unsuccessfully on multiple occasions to sue the state over the implementation of the 2008 dog law and has represented animal abusers in failed attempts to win damages after their convictions.
Their barrage of lawsuits has had a chilling effect on humane law enforcement in Pennsylvania. The PSPCA has not conducted a single raid on a puppy mill or hoarding case outside of Philadelphia in three years. Neither are smaller humane societies aggressively pursuing abusers, while some that have - like Cumberland Valley Humane Society west of Harrisburg - are still paying the cost of caring for dogs in cruelty cases as Clymer-represented clients appeal their repeated convictions.