A crowd of more than 400 people gathered Sunday afternoon to protest a decision by a local animal cruelty officer not to prosecute the breeder of a puppy rescued July 4 from a southern Lancaster County farm.
The crowd was demanding the resignation of Susan Martin, the cruelty officer, as director of the SPCA.
The puppy, since named Libre, was discovered in a pen in early July. The SPCA volunteer who found the dog contacted Martin to rescue the dog but, a few days later, took steps to rescue the dog himself with the help of a former cruelty officer and a Mechanicsburg-based rescue group.
Martin later said at a press conference that she did not act on the puppy’s plight because she was home with the flu. She also said her staff veterinarian determined the pup did not need help based on one photo taken by the volunteer.
The sign-carrying crowd lined both sides of Prince Street near the shelter, which remained open for business during the protest.
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A crowd begins to gather early Sunday afternoon to protest the Lancaster County SPCA in a video posted by Janine Guido of Speranza Animal Rescue.
Libre, a 3- to 4-month-old Boston terrier, was suffering from a severe case of demodectic mange. Rescuers said he was emaciated, dehydrated and barely breathing when he was rescued from the farm.
Dillsburg veterinarian Dr. Ivan Pryor, who has been treating Libre since July 5, said the pup was hours from death when brought to his clinic. The puppy had maggots in open wounds, Pryor said.
Over the weekend, the clinic posted updates noting that Libre is able to walk again. At around 3 a.m. Monday, a recent message said, the puppy rediscovered the ability to bark.
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Libre in a video posted Sunday morning by Dillsburg Veterinary Center, demonstrates his newfound ability to walk.
On Friday, the SPCA board of directors — besides Martin, the board includes Patrick Hopkins, Joseph James, John Shoff and Dr. John Hall — issued a statement supporting the executive director.
Board members, it said, “are unanimous in our support” of Martin’s decision “not to press charges in the case involving the Boston terrier afflicted with demodectic mange.”
Echoing the wording of a release issued by Martin the previous week, the board’s statement says “Susan can only file charges of neglect or cruelty in cases where the evidence fully supports those charges. The evidence available in this particular case does not beyond reasonable doubt support charges of neglect or cruelty.”
The statement further says Martin’s record as a Humane Society police officer “has been exemplary,” noting that she has “investigated hundreds of cases and been able to rescue countless animals from neglectful and abusive situations.”
Meanwhile, the LNP, Lancaster County SPCA, Justice for Libre and Speranza Animal Rescue pages on Facebook have received thousands of comments criticizing Martin's inaction and calling for her removal as director of the shelter.