John Blank, owner of the Amish Kennel where 23 sick and disfigured dogs were seized by authorities Saturday, July 19, pleaded guilty on all counts in the Oxford District Court 15-03-05.Blank, of Upper Oxford, was charged with eight counts of Cruelty to Animals, two counts of Failure to Maintain a Kennel in a Sanitary and Humane Condition and one count of Harassment.
Blank was sentenced Friday, July 25, to serve a non-reporting probationary sentence of 90 days for each count of Cruelty to Animals, with the sentences to run consecutively for a total of two years; pay a fine of $10 for each count of Cruelty to Animals, and a fine of $50 for each count of Failure to Maintain a Kennel in a Sanitary and Humane Condition-resulting in an aggregate fine of $180; pay all court costs as specified by the District Court; and to pay a $100 fine for the charge of harassment.
Blank was ordered to permanently forfeit ownership of all dogs and puppies to the PSPCA as of July 25, 2008-to include the 31 dogs and puppies seized and the remaining 106 dogs and puppies inventoried in the kennel on July 24, 2008, by the PSPCA.
The court order also states that Blank is prohibited from ownership, possession or control of any more than five family pet dogs. He shall also permit inspections of any domestic animals by the PSPCA to ensure that the animals are being provided with adequate food, water, shelter and veterinary care.
It was agreed upon by the District Court that two dogs will remain on the property; all other dogs, including 14 dogs that were previously sold or in another's care, will be surrendered. Any dogs, excluding the two family dogs, remaining on the property after a follow-up inspection on August 1, 2008, will be confiscated.
Blank voluntarily surrendered his kennel license and is restricted from re-applying to operate a kennel in the future.
According to officials, about 300 dogs, and as many as eight puppies, were stuffed into one small cage on Blank's farm, located on the 1500 block of Limestone Road. The dogs were piled onto each other and had food troughs with feces mixed.
PSPCA officer Elaine Skypala said some puppies were so small they could not reach the lipsticks for water bottles attached to the cages, and their paws slipped through gaps on the cages' floors.
Blank sold his puppies to pet stores and individuals for $800 to $1,300 and was licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to sell to pet shops.
Officials had first learned of the conditions at the Limestone Kennel after Blank surrendered nine dogs to the Main Line Animal Rescue roughly three weeks prior to the bust. The dogs had numerous health issues which prompted the shelter to contact the PSPCA.
An undercover officer affirmed the authorities' suspicions after a 3-week-old puppy, which he had purchased for $300 from Blank, died one day later due to dehydration, emaciation and hypothermia.
With a search warrant in hand, authorities seized 23 of the dogs that had obvious medical issues, including fly bites and untreated wounds-one of the dogs was reported to have had a severe eye problem.
The nine adult dogs and 14 puppies have been in the care of the PSPCA since the seizure.
Charges against Blank were filed with Magisterial District Judge Harry W. Farmer, Jr. in Oxford.