ALDF Helps Prosecute 'Puppy Mill' HoardersAugust 1st, 2006
Hundreds of dogs seized in an Oxford, Pennsylvania hoarding case
in February are finding their forever homes. The new guardians are so
eager to adopt one of the 333 dogs found in an unlicensed kennel that
they lined up recently outside the Chester County SPCA to meet the
rescued pups. Many of the dogs had been found with skin, ear, eye, and
respiratory ailments linked to the dirty living conditions at the
kennel, and several had broken bones that were never treated. Sadly,
some dogs died shortly after being removed.
Three people, including nationally known breeder Michael Wolf, were convicted in April of failing to provide clean living conditions for the animals. They appealed, but in June pleaded guilty to 60 counts each of animal cruelty. Wolf, a frequent dog show participant in the 1960s and ‘70s, was put on 15 years of probation, fined $6300, and ordered to pay more than $122,000 to the Chester County SPCA for housing and treating the animals. He’s also barred from contact with animals during his probation. Two other defendants, Gordon Trottier and Margaret Hills, were also ordered to pay restitution and are forbidden from owning, possessing, or controlling any animals.
These hoarding cases are all too common, and to make things worse, Wolf was operating a "puppy mill": a canine breeding facility that houses dogs in shockingly poor conditions—these greedy business owners are concerned only about profit, not the welfare of the animals. To aid in the prosecution of Wolf, Trottier, and Hills, ALDF advised the Chester County SPCA investigator on processing hoarding cases once animals have been seized. ALDF also contacted the county prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Lorraine Finnegan, to discuss strategy, possible defense theories, and even to make sentencing recommendations.
In a great win for animals, most of the hoarders’ victims were rescued and the defendants were given stiff penalties. Moreover, Governor Edward Rendell has vowed to tighten regulations and make changes at Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement, which licenses and inspects the state’s 2,400 kennels.
Please send a letter of praise and congratulations to the prosecutor in this case:
Chester County District Attorney’s Office
17 North Church St., Suite 218
P.O. Box 2748
West Chester, PA 19380-0991