Parkesburg couple pleads guilty in hanging deaths of dogs at kennel

This Golden Doodle was one of the remaining animals left on the Stoltzfus property, and was surrendered to the Pennsylvania SPCA.
This Golden Doodle was one of the remaining animals left on the Stoltzfus property, and was surrendered to the Pennsylvania SPCA. Submitted photo

Parkesburg >> A Chester County couple pleaded guilty to numerous charges surrounding the hanging deaths of two female dogs at a kennel they operated in Parkesburg, according to the Pennsylvania SPCA.

Elizabeth and John Stoltzfus of Parkesburg agreed to plead guilty in exchange for probation in connection with the hanging deaths of two female dogs, a Bichon-type dog and a Golden Doodle-type dog, at their dog kennel.

This case took place just weeks prior to the enactment of Libre’s Law, which would make acts such as this a felony.

Elizabeth Stoltzfus pled guilty to Dog Law violations surrounding the deaths of the dogs including a misdemeanor count of failure to keep kennel in a sanitary and humane condition, and two misdemeanor counts of failure to notify the Bureau of Dog Law prior to euthanasia of any dog. She was sentenced to prohibition of animals for two years.

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Her husband, John Stoltzfus, pled guilty to killing the dogs under the animal cruelty law. His guilty pleas included two misdemeanor charges of willfully killing and/or torturing the dogs. He was sentenced to 10 years prohibition of animal ownership.

The two dogs, which had Brucellosis, were killed by hanging after which their bodies were burned. Brucellosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria which can be transmitted to humans through contact with infected animals. Brucellosis is treatable in both canines and humans, with a course of antibiotics.

“This case involved especially heinous acts of animal cruelty, including the intentionally torturous deaths of two dogs,” said Nicole Wilson, director of Humane Law Enforcement at the Pennsylvania SPCA. “While we can never undo this damage, we can take some solace in knowing that this couple will not own animals for a very long time.”

The Stolzfuses’ kennel , Garden Spot Puppy Haven on North Moscow Road in Parkesburg, has had its license revoked, according to online state records.

The Humane Society included the kennel its “Horrible Hundred” list last year, noting that Pennsylvania officials issued 11 citations or warnings and ordered 10 vet checks on dogs between 2010 and 2017. During that span, the kennel was cited for selling underage puppies, unsafe housing, unsatisfactory sanitation, and excessive feces, according to the Humane Society.

All remaining animals on the Stoltzfus property, two Golden Doodle type dogs, were surrendered to the Pennsylvania SPCA. The dogs were brought to the PSPCA’s Erie Avenue headquarters on Friday where they were evaluated medically and behaviorally and will be placed for adoption.

In August of last year, the Pennsylvania SPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement Team received information from the Pennsylvania Bureau of Dog Law about the killing of the two female dogs. Based upon the findings of this investigation, animal cruelty charges were filed against both individuals.

Anyone who witnesses acts of animal cruelty is encouraged to call the PSPCA’s Cruelty Hotline, 866-601-7722.

About the Author

Fran Maye

Fran Maye is an award-winning journalist and a graduate of Shippensburg University. He and his wife Marianne live in East Marlborough. He enjoys golf and is a 4.0 tennis player. Reach the author at kennettpaper@gmail.com or follow Fran on Twitter: @kennettpaper.