29 Pets Rescued from “Not a Great Situation”

In Chester Co, PA last week, the county SPCA “rushed to the scene of an alleged case of animal hoarding”.  24 small breed dogs and 5 cats were taken away by ACOs while the owner, Wynne Byers, cried and kissed each of them goodbye.

“They’re everything to me, I don’t know why they’re taking them away from me,” Byers said.

SPCA officials say the pets were malnourished and were living in small cages surrounded by deplorable conditions.

“They were in small cages in one room, there’s flea infestation, they’re very thin, there’s matting; it’s not a great situation,” Rich Britton of the Chester County SPCA said.

Looking at the images provided, I saw one dog who looked too plump and another with long toenails.  I did not see anything alarming although they did not show the “deplorable conditions” in the home.  Generally, the dogs just look old with the typical tooth problems commonly seen in small breed dogs of that age.

From another article on the raid:

[The dogs] were kept inside small cat crates inside a small unsanitary room in the house. Britton said the dogs were emaciated and flea infested.


The SPCA intends to file animal cruelty charges against owner Wynn Byers within the next 48 hours.

The owner said she takes her pets to the vet frequently:

Byers told a group of reporters that she cares for the dogs properly and only puts them in the small crates when they are eating.

I haven’t come across any follow up stories on this case and so don’t know if the SPCA followed through and filed charges.  Here’s my question:  Do pets living in “not a great situation” require rescuing in the form of a raid?  I mean sure, it would be great if every pet in the U.S. lived in a great situation.  But when we come across pets who don’t, does that automatically constitute “hoarding”, cruelty charges and seizure?

I’m wondering if this isn’t another case where education and assistance might be the appropriate course of action.  If for example, ACOs advised the owner that flea treatment must be provided to the pets, they could let her know about some of the topical over the counter products available, put this item on a checklist and set a date for a return visit to insure compliance.  To me, that seems a much more reasonable starting point than taking a bunch of old pets out of their home and using up the resources of the local SPCA to care for them while they are held as “evidence”.

I’ll be watching for a follow-up on this case and if any eagle-eyed readers spot something, please share.

Thank you Laura for sending me a link to this story.

28 thoughts on “29 Pets Rescued from “Not a Great Situation”

  1. Wonder how the SPCA got involved? It sounds as though a vengeful neighbor or someone else who knew this woman may have reported her “crimes.” Too bad they jumped to seize the animals instead of offering help with food and flea control and maybe with placing some of the dogs in other homes if there were too many for one person to care for. Will be watching out for a follow-up story on this.

  2. I read through the readers’ comments at the second news story link. Very few in favor of the SPCA raid–many pointing out that dogs seized in a similar raid a few weeks ago were “sold” for far more than the SPCA’s usual $125 adoption fee. That’s not confirmed and the dogs seized last week won’t be up for adoption unless the court grants them to the SPCA. Sadly, they may be too old to be considered “adoptable” anyway. But judging by those comments from locals, the SPCA is’t winning hearts and minds in Chester Co. these days.

  3. I agree on the photos – I see evidence of poor care (the dachshund, especially, appears to have some condition causing significant hair loss) but not what I’d consider neglect worthy of a warrant and raid. In particular, the wooly little dog is clipped and doesn’t appear to be either filthy or matted, which I’d expect if the animals were seriously neglected. And all those shown do appear to be reasonably well-fed, despite the claim of malnutrition.

    On the other hand, the visibly poor condition of the dachshund’s coat does suggest that the owner may well need some advice and aid to care for whatever ailment is present. Though, then again, it may be she has access to adequate veterinary care, as she claims, and it’s just difficult to treat. I’ve certainly been there in the past, and I suspect anyone who’s had pets for any length of time has. And with 25 dogs and 5 cats, it may well be that she’s also begun to be overwhelmed. I certainly would be. But, that’s also not an excuse for a full-on raid; it seems to me that if that were the case it’d be reasonable and prudent to begin with cooperative efforts to rehome some of the crew.

    I’ve often wondered how vulnerable animal control services are to malicious or misguided tips, and judging from what I see in the news, it looks as if in some areas the answer is ‘very.’ I’ve also begun to wonder if these sorts of raids are a variety of grandstanding — ‘look, we’ve made a hoarder bust, we’re doing our jobs.’

    1. One news story said the tip was called in by a neighbor. You would think that the SPCA would know neighbors sometimes have axes to grind, and want a little more to go on, before invading someones home like that.
      There are actually two people living in the home, so I’m not seeing a problem with the dogs getting enough hands on care and attention. Particularly since many are elderly dogs who probably just sleep 18 hours a day.
      The only pet limit law I can find to apply here specifically says “26 or more DOGS,” not pets. Even if it does apply, the license only costs $75, so I think if the lady needed one, she would just have bought one-?
      We can’t know for sure what the conditions were inside the home, but the dogs shown looked perfectly clean, and the officers were holding them awfully close.
      I think this is definitely a case of grand standing to solicit donations. There were at least 4 different news outlets, who were notified in advance, present for this “raid.”
      If you check out the “stray” policy on the SPCA website, you’ll see a number of townships in the area are no longer paying the SPCA for animal control services, and they no longer pick up strays in those areas. They are probably financially strapped on account of this. I’m all for raising money to help animals, but not one the backs of little old ladies and their elderly dogs. I have to wonder how much they are actually helping animals-one of the comments under the news story said they have a kill rate of 85%. I don’t know if that is true, or not. I did pose this question, and some others, on their FB page, as a comment under their posting where they pat themselves on the back for this “raid.” It was not answered, but promptly deleted.
      I’ve been watching for more news on this, but haven’t seen anything. I did email some of the news stations, requesting they do a follow up. If they are invading peoples homes, and seizing their pets w/o cause, something needs to be done.
      Thanks very much for the Blog about this.

      1. OOps, sorry, this was supposed to be a comment on the blog, not a reply to Eucritta’s posting, specifically. My bad.

    2. It is hard to judge by a few photos, and I’m not in favor of blindly “trusting authorities”; I hope that we find out more information in the coming days/weeks. I’m strongly in favor of saving animals from true abuse (people generally agree on what constitutes abuse) or “extreme neglect” (definitions vary from person to person), but worry that raids are sometimes done with results that are worse than the original conditions. It should take more than a warrant to have the authority to conduct a raid – when a raid is done, there needs to be a plan that ensures the safety of each animal they confiscate if it cannot be returned to the owner – don’t take the animal and later euthanize it and tell people that it is better off dead than living in squalor.

  4. I agree on the grandstanding allegation, I have seen it many times. Often, the animals meet a worse fate than what they left. Hoarding is a buzzword that must be taken with a grain of salt. There are certainly real hoarders that aren’t doing animals any favors, but nobody tells people how many kids they can have, or takes some away if they have “too many”. I also agree that the proper course of action is to offer assistance rather than take the animals out of their home. The resources used to do the “raid”, staff time, transport, intake multiple animals into the shelter, feed and vet, and probable execution unless this is a no-kill shelter, would be better used to help the animals keep their home. When the strongest comment that AC can make is that it’s “not a great situation”, taking these animals from this woman is human cruelty. Of course, it’s easier and safer than busting a dog-fighting ring or shutting down a puppy mill. Most AC ops I’ve seen will never admit they made a mistake, and will lie and exaggerate to justify the extreme of busting into someone’s home or facility and kidnapping their pets. We are in as serious need of reform in the “animal control” industry as we are of the catch-and-kill shelter operations.

    1. I see these posts are over a year old, but would like to inform everyone that the Chester County SPCA, located in West Chester Pennsylvania is a “kill shelter.” Just last year, A law was passed, Banning this “Kill shelter” From using Gas Chambers To euthanize the animals in their shelter.
      They only keep the dogs there 5 days, (and those are the ones deemed adoptable). They are killed on the fifth day. This is really sad because most of those dogs in that raid are probably old, and will be euthanized immediately. Unless they hold on to them for evidence, which I doubt they would do. They would most likely use pictures, you don’t have to “feed” pictures, and pictures do not take up space.
      BTW, Mostly every pit bull brought in there Is euthanized the same day. The reason I know these things Is because My brother’s friend Works there.

  5. What Jack said. “Hoarding” is sexy now and it is a lot more self-aggrandizing (as well as potentially fundable) to claim you rescued a gazillion animals from a “hoarding situation” than to say “We heard there was a person who needed a little help so we have set her up with a home (kennel?) aid who can come in once a week and help and make sure things don’t get worse.” Nope, that would be too reasonable.

  6. Gah, I hate having to wonder about this. I want to just trust the SPCA. Now I want to know ALL the details before trusting their judgement. Would they have seized them if the conditions were the same but she only had 4 or 5?

  7. It is not hard to get a 501(c)3 and start your own “hands on helping” organization.. heck you really don;t even need to have it.. JUST HELP.. this would be a great project for a scout troop or 4 H.. helping this woman clean , bathe etc her dogs.. maybe take them out for a walk.nope too easy.. and then they would not have any “merchandise ” to sell..that they get FOR FREE. these seizures HAVE TO STOP.. 22 dogs.. big deal.. they all looked pretty good.. as for the doxie.. my sisters had the same hair loos.. Cushings.. doxies also have their own sort of disease that causes hair loss. not much you can do about it.. it just happens..trust the spca.. not on your .. or your dogs life..these are (literally) brown shirts that steal peoples property for resale..and yes many of the victims are older women who have no money fro lawyers.. it is too sad to see those dogs dragged from their home.. funny thing is .. where do you think they will be spending their time at the SPCA.. hmm yes that’s right.. in crates..

  8. There was a situation in Memphis not long ago. A couple had 11 animals, dogs and cats. Two were running at large and MAS was called.

    The ACOs impounded ALL the animals and charged the wife because she said they were her babies. Yes the house was filthy beyond belief, but the animals were in good medical condition. Two were ever so slightly underweight, the rest okay. There was no sign of disease upon intake at MAS.

    The owner of the animals was so upset by the removal of all her “babies” that she killed herself. The ACO then transferred the charges to the husband. They were eventually dismissed by the judge.

    Three weeks later when a rescue saved the animals from MAS, all the dogs had lost weight, some up to 20 pounds. All had distemper. They were taken to a private Vet and two had to be euthanized immediately, the others barely made it.

    This story would have been so different if only the ACOs had tried to offer help and education to the couple. Though the home was filthy, it could have been cleaned. The animals were okay. Three weeks at the “shelter” and they were sick, thin and two had to be euthanized.

    “Hoarding”, “Collecting”, whatever you want to call it is not criminal unless the animals are in imminent danger. The animal organizations must offer humane education, assistance, etc. Help them with adoptions, s/n, vaccinations and in many cases social services.
    Immediate removal in most cases does not help the animals or the humans.


    1. This is really sad. And AC and MAS that we are hearing so many horror stories about are one in the same, correct?

  9. I hope that we can all search to find her a lawyer to fight the onerous “A”. Assuming the charges are filed. She should be given her animals back, and helped with whatever she needs help with. Horrible situation.

  10. Even IF this was a case of hoarding, the fact remains that the MAIN, most serious problem facing pets,and pet lovers today, is THE MASS HOLOCAUST OF CATS AND DOGS IN “SHELTERS”.

    The cat and dog murderers may try to use a case like this to put the blame/focus on others, but the fact is: The ones murdering our four legged family members are the so called “shelters” that were created to…..well…shelter them. And these poor excuses for “shelters” commit murder, because unethical, inhumane, and cruel ‘animal welfare groups’ like PETA, HSUS, ASPCA, etc. recommend that they do so.

    Dont lose focus of THE problem facing every one who claims to love pets.

    Hoarding is rare. Inexcusable. Tragic. But rare, compared to the mass murder of millions of pets….. murders that take place EVERY day, by the same scumbags who try to hype cases like this, and make them seem more of a regular occurence than they actually are, so that they can continue to kill precious living souls, unpunished.


    1. It would have been more kind to educate the elderly woman and show her what needed to be done to improve the lives of the elderly pets in her care.

      Taking those elderly pets away was cruel to both the lady and the pets. Especially since the organization taking the animals is not known for kind treatment of them after they have made the news with their “bust”. Generally the animals are taken “dumped” on local facilities and the outcome is not good. Mention ACO in certain areas and it reminds one of a death sentence.

      I refer you to the following website to read Nathan Winograd’s blog on Understanding the Epidemic of Cruelty. “A Culture of Cruelty”


  11. The problem with hoarding is the unhealthy conditions and how unsocialized the animals are. I dont know if thats the situation here because I didnt click on the link, just read the article, but thats why I dont particularly like it. Also, often times the animals are not spade/neutered, so they bring in even more puppies than need be. Thats more lives to bring in and more mouths to feed. If a family has 2 dogs and they have a litter of 10 pups, then thats 12 dogs in the world, but if 6 different couples bring in 12 dogs…well..I know it sounds far-fetched and I’m sure it doesn’t happen that often but my point is that if someone cant properly care for 1 pup then they dont need 12 or whatever. Just my .02.

    1. Err I should re-word that, I wouldnt want someone to not properly care for a dog whether it be 12 or just 1. If they have it under control, then great, but oftentimes, it is not very healthy. Or maybe Ive just seen too many Animal Cops LOL

      1. I think you should probably click the link Jessica. Nobody thinks hoarding animals is a good thing. The trouble is when AC, or ASPCA, or HSUS go into a situation where the animals ARE being cared for, act like “heroes” who are “rescuing” animals, taking them to a “shelter” where they are often killed. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but it seems to be the fashionable thing to do these days, because people think they are great and send them money. Probably thanks to the shows like Animal Cops. Many of the dogs in this situation probably will be killed, because they are elderly. Take a look at the video in the link, and see what you think about the condition of the dogs.

      2. Laura-
        No the dogs dont really look like they are in bad shape necessary, or at least the 2 they showed. I also take issue with the animals being in a cage all the time too. Now I know she said that she does it to feed them, but what if the dog is like mine who eats a little bit throughout the day? Is she going to keep it in there all day until they eat? I feel like this evidence is too circumstantial, sort of like after a crime is committed and its a “wrong place at wrong time” kind of thing. We may never know the whole story. And I dont really believe it’s good to keep so many animals at one time for millions of reasons. I really think it has to be a case-by-case basis as I said but I would rather them spend more time with other areas of animal welfare than always busting up hoarders anyway. I dont really know much more to say than that.

      3. I have a hunch that when they arrived, things were not as bad as the tipster made it sound, but they felt they had to seize the dogs anyway, because they had already notified the press to be there and cameras were rolling. I felt really badly for the lady when I watched the video. I really, really do not like the idea that based on only a tip they were given a warrant to invade the privacy of someone’s home, either. I plan on sticking w/ this and doing my best to get the whole story.

      4. Laura-
        Yeah, I agree. I just dont really know what more to say. And Im sure a lot of it is ego-stroking, as youve said, they are a corporation afterall.

  12. Today is Thursday 5/12 & I just got a call that the SPCA ‘quietly’ (did not call in media this time) returned most of the dogs to the woman today. Anyone know about this? I also have heard from a good source that the woman Wynne did not own the house but was only a tennant. I also have senior/geriatric dogs (14-16yrs old) but when did old age warrant euthanasia. I spend almost $300 per month to keep them healthy. I understand this woman worked at WalMart to help pay their vet bill to do the same. If the SPCA kept her old dogs because they were just old, how dare they deprive those old dogs the only home they knew. We all know those old dogs won’t be put up for adoption. Is this a case of Big Brother watching & determining at what age a dog should be euthanized whether it’s healthy or not? And I haven’t seen any laws in PA that it’s illegal for an animal to have fleas.

    1. I just dropped a note in the mail to her today, asking how things were going. I tried calling her, but the number had been disconnected. Can you imagine the kinds of phone calls she must have been getting?
      I hope what you heard was right, and the dogs went home. Poor old dogs must have been so traumatized in that shelter, and they held them for so long. Shame on the SPCA.

  13. Laura you brought up something interesting. Anyone can call in a “tip” and it is acted on, dogs taken and after the cost of up to 100,000 dollars most people loose everything. In abuse cases of children at least the reporter has to give name etc. Then they investigate. We often find that the laws allow animal investigators often who believe in animal rights along with animal rights vets to say how sick they are. We can only ask, will good care ever be good enough for those who are intent on liberation of animal use. If dogs, and cats lived in the wild, I am sure their life span would be shortened by years. What disturbs me quite a bit is now there is a closer look at rescues as “hoarders”, so the rescues, or those just wanting to save dogs and cats are becomming a target. The vegan animal rights movement is just a heartbreaker for many who see long range of no more animals for human use, all liberated, and to what, I ask? Mother nature is not humane in most cases.

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