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.