The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men

How an elaborate plan to prosecute animal cruelty in PA fell victim to politics:

On Oct. 7, a group of animal-welfare advocates and a veterinarian flew to the auction in southeast Ohio on a jet owned by a friend of a board member of Main Line Animal Rescue, based in Chester Springs. Their goal: Find sick animals among the nearly 400 purebred dogs from Pennsylvania that were to be sold by kennels downsizing or going out of business as a result of the state’s more stringent kennel law.

After a veterinarian picked out 12 dogs she believed to be in the poorest health, the animals were purchased and brought back.


Cari Thomson, the vet who went to the auction, said that she had later examined eight dogs and that six had severe periodontal disease and several had serious skin and ear infections.

She said their conditions had constituted “gross neglect.”

Main Line Animal Rescue racked up $30,000 in vet bills treating the 12 dogs, founder Bill Smith said.

The attorney for the dogs’ breeders denies any allegations of cruelty and states the dogs were given a clean bill of health by a Veterinarian prior to auction.

Enter the political posturing:

The Pennsylvania SPCA charged six, all in Lancaster County, with animal cruelty.

Now those charges have been dropped, in a spat between the Lancaster County prosecutor and a PSPCA lawyer.

District Attorney Craig Stedman said the PSPCA had dropped the case after meeting Dec. 21 with one of his deputies.

Sue Cosby, executive director of the PSPCA, said Stedman had told her that, after a review, he decided he could not prosecute the cases and recommended that the PSPCA drop them.

Without his support, Cosby said, the organization had no choice, even though she believed the evidence supported the charges.


“They kept us out of the loop and surreptitiously filed charges,” Stedman said in an interview Wednesday. “Bill Lamb is not a member of law enforcement and not a special prosecutor. The best way to handle cases is to work with our office. We’re the legal experts.”

And so, one jet plane, several animal advocates, and $30,000 later, we have a plan to prosecute cruelty and no results. I’m glad 12 dogs were saved from auction – which is a terrible way to sell a dog to my mind – but I can’t help wondering if the extensive resources utilized in this failed scheme could have been used more wisely.

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