State removes 58 rare dogs from unlicensed kennel

 Photo/Public Opinion

The state Department of Agriculture has shut down an unlicensed kennel in central Pennsylvania and removed 58 New Guinea Singing Dogs, an ancient and rare breed of dogs that once populated the island of New Guinea. 

Randy A. Hammond was charged with operating a kennel license and failing to have dogs vaccinated against rabies, after dog wardens entered his property in Willow Hill on Oct. 13 and found 68 dogs, according to officials. More from The Public Opinion newspaper here.

The New Guinea Singing Dogs, closely related to the Australian Dingo, are among the rarest dogs in the world. None are known to be licensed in Pennsylvania and there are only about 150 known to exist in the world, many of them in zoos, according to breed experts.

Hammond, who is cooperating with authorities, will keep 10 of the dogs, all of which are being spayed or neutered. Anyone who has 25 or fewer dogs is not required to possess a state kennel license.

The chief of the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement called it a hoarding situation.

“Animal hoarding situations are often difficult to address because the owners may be in denial about conditions,” said Jessie Smith, the state’s special deputy secretary for dog law enforcement. “Thanks to a tip received by the bureau, wardens were able to act swiftly to investigate, cite the owner and make arrangements to move the dogs.”

If convicted on the dog law charges, Hammond faces fines of up to $1,100. A spokeswoman for the Department of Agriculture said the dogs appeared in generally good health, but they were kept in barrels. Hammond is facing at least one animal cruelty charge for unsanitary conditions.

Wardens are now working with New Guinea Singing Dog International in Marengo, Ill., the New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society in Fernandina Beach, Fla., Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah, the Adams County SPCA, Better Days Animal League of Shippensburg, Cumberland County, and local veterinarians to spay, neuter and vaccinate the dogs and transport them from the property.

Singing Dogs are generally shy around people but can be aggressive around other dogs of the same sex. They are known to have a haunting bark, similar to a wolf.

“Singing Dogs do not get along with other dogs or pets. They are predatory, need constant supervision, and an extensive amount of exercise to thrive. They are not family pets and are best placed by groups with knowledge of the breed,” said Smith.

Anyone who wants to help with the care of the dogs should contact New Guinea Singing Dog International at 815-814-4968, or the New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society at 904-261-5630.

Smith said before the passage of Act 119 (the amended dog law) in 2008, the state dog law was ambiguous about the charges that could be filed against illegal kennels beyond charges for failure get a license.

The new dog law allows wardens to cite for violations similar to those allowed for kennels holding a state license and serve a cease-and-desist order requiring the unlicensed kennel to stop doing business. Failure to license and vaccinate dogs against rabies are also citable offenses.

Tips about unsatisfactory or illegal kennels can be reported confidentially by using the web complaint form, or calling 1-877-DOG-TIP1.