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An influx of dogs overruns shelter

November 30, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. ? The Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter has had a full house and its hands full with an influx of dozens of dogs it has taken in because of an animal cruelty case.

Scottie, a sheltie, looked nervous in his pen, but Bert the St. Bernard and Abby, a huge Newfoundland, appeared content. Five chow-mix puppies looked about curiously as potential owners visited the shelter's kennel Friday.

"We took in 63 and, through rescues, we're down to about half that," said Jennifer Vanderau, the shelter's director of communications.

The shelter took the animals as a result of a Franklin County couple being cited for animal cruelty and operating a kennel without a license.

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Tim and Cindy Keller, of 5823 Mountain Road in Chambersburg, were issued the summary citations Thursday for cruelty to animals by Animal Cruelty Officer Floyd Hessler, according to records at Magisterial District Judge Richard Alloway's office. The illegal kennel charges were filed by Pennsylvania Dog Law Officer Georgia Martin.

Some of the citations were issued for:

? Failure to provide adequate shelter.

? Fifty-four dogs being underweight "possibly from lack of food or access to water."

? Forty-seven dogs with matted fur from excessively muddy conditions.

? Neglecting to give proper veterinary care resulting in skin, eye, nose and ear infections and other diseases.

? Kennels and grounds being contaminated with feces.

Hessler noted on the citations that the Kellers previously pleaded guilty to animal cruelty in 2002.

Alloway on Friday set fines of $500 each on 16 cruelty citations and $300 on the two illegal kennel charges. The Kellers can plead guilty and pay the more than $8,600 in fines, or contest the allegations, Alloway said.

"The couple did the right thing by voluntarily signing the animals over to us so we could treat them and adopt them into new homes," said Alan Loessy, vice president of the shelter.

"It didn't take me long to come up with an estimate of $5,000 ... and it could go up to $10,000," Loessy said of the cost of keeping the canines. That included nine people working six hours to round up the animals; overtime for employees; and feeding, bathing, grooming, medicating and spaying and neutering dogs that the shelter has put up for adoption, he said.

The cost might have been higher but for the rescue groups that took in specific breeds and Best Friends Animal Hospital in Chambersburg, which took six or seven dogs in critical need of medical care, Loessy said.

Vanderau said the shelter has had the dogs about two weeks, during which time they have been treated for a wide variety of ailments. Two had to be euthanized, she said.

"We had 38 dogs to begin with before this happened," Vanderau said. The shelter normally can house about 35 dogs, but still had 52 on Friday, as well as 55 cats, she said.

"No shelter can plan for something like this," Vanderau said.

More medications are needed as the shelter finds more ailments with some of the dogs, Vanderau said. Loessy said the community has stepped up with donations and by adopting animals, but the shelter's budget is feeling the strain.

Vanderau said monetary donations can be made at www.cvas-pets.org or by calling 717-263-5791 for more information.

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