The Pennsylvania SPCA is seeking over $70,000 from a Kirkwood kennel operator to pay for care administered to more than 30 dogs and puppies seized from his kennel in August.
The kennel operator, Israel B. Stoltzfus, was charged with 32 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty and one count of neglect of animals by the PSPCA in September.
Under state law, the PSPCA can file a petition in a county's court of common pleas asking a criminally charged kennel operator to reimburse the agency for costs incurred while caring for seized animals.
In Stoltzfus' case, the PSPCA filed a petition in Lancaster County Court on Feb. 14 saying he owed $71,020 for care.
On Tuesday, Stoltzfus filed a motion asking the judge to dismiss the case.
A hearing is scheduled in Lancaster County Court with Judge Leonard Brown on May 2.
34 dogs, puppies seized
The heat index was over 115 degrees on Aug. 8 when the PSPCA removed 34 dogs and puppies from Stoltzfus' property on Morrison Road, according to the petition.
A dead puppy was found on a pile of hay. A single, small fan was in the kennel, according to the petition.
The PSPCA got a warrant to seize the animals after a Pennsylvania Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement veterinarian visited the kennel in June and August. The veterinarian found dogs in distress due to heat and a lack of veterinary care, according to the petition.
Temperatures above 85 degrees are dangerous to dogs, and temperatures of 90 degrees or more are potentially life-threatening, according to the PSPCA.
On Sept. 13, PSPCA officer Jennifer Nields filed criminal charges against Stoltzfus. A district judge set bail at $1,000 unsecured. The case is pending; a criminal trial is scheduled for July 8, according to his docket.
The PSPCA quarantined the dogs and puppies at their Philadelphia headquarters. In late September, the highly contagious viral illness parvovirus infected 22 of the young dogs, according to the PSPCA's filing.
Eleven dogs died from the virus, four died a natural death and seven were euthanized. A 12th dog, an adult female Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, died after being at the animal hospital about four weeks.
The most expensive care was for two sibling golden doodles that got parvovirus and died; over $6,592 for a newborn puppy the PSPCA named Baby Potato; and $5,696 for a puppy named Mycroft, according to the petition.
“There's a side of this that the public typically doesn't see: Once animals are seized in cruelty cases, they need to be cared for — often for a long period of time while the case winds its way through the court system,” said PSPCA spokeswoman Gillian Kocher.
The dogs continue to be under the care of the PSPCA until Stoltzfus' criminal case is finished.
Kennel owner rebuts claims
Stoltzfus filed a complaint in the case April 9. In a filing, he said his farm was “attacked by SPCA employees” who made “some wild claims of the inhumane treatment of the livestock in our kennel during a heat wave.”
He filed a motion to dismiss on Tuesday. In it, he said the only thing he is guilty of is being a farmer “on a very hot summer day.”
Stoltzfus applied for a kennel license in Dec. 2017 under the name “Country Kennel.” Department of Agriculture records show the kennel closed voluntarily sometime after the August inspection.
Stoltzfus did not return a request for comment Wednesday.