Cole Warminsky, a Pennsylvania dog warden recognized for improving the welfare of thousands of canines in the state, died on March 18 in Bethlehem. He was 28.
Warminsky, of Palmyra, had battled cystic fibrosis for several years, but continued to work despite his condition, said Jessie Smith, the former deputy secretary of the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement who hired Warminsky in 2007.
Smith said Warminsky was awaiting a lung transplant at the time of his death.
He met his wife, Jillian, when they were both members of the Kutztown University equestrian team. She is expecting their first child next month.
Warminsky was one of five kennel compliance specialists hired by the Department of Agriculture as part of Gov. Rendell's highly-publicized effort to crack down on substandard commercial dog breeding kennels.
Warminsky and others were dispatched throughout the state to inspect hundreds of the worst performing kennels - also known as puppy mills - in Pennsylvania.
Inspection reports reveal that Warminsky was a thorough inspector and did not hesitate to cite poor performing kennels for serious maintenance and safety conditions.
Smith recalls Warminsky as a dedicated dog law enforcement officer and a team player.
"He was great at explaining what needed to be done to kennel owners, took his time to be sure they understood, and he also was upset by those who did not seem to care," she said. "He loved dogs and horses and brought both knowledge and passion to the job."
Bob Baker, executive director for the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation, and for 30 years one of the leading Pennsylvania anti-puppy mill activists, praised Warminsky's work for its positive impact on the health of breeding animals and the conditions in which they live.
"He was one of the truly good ones who tried to clean up the mess left from years of neglect by the department at Pennsylvania puppy mills," said Baker.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Jillian Warminsky and sent in care of Connell Funeral Home 245 E. Broad St. Bethlehem, 18018, where a funeral will be held tonight. All contributions will go to an education fund for the Warminsky's daughter who is to be born in April.
Offer condolences online at www.connellfuneral.com www.pennlive.com/obits.