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Good Dog Owners vs. Bad Dog Laws: Murder Hollow Bassets, an update

After 14 months of legal and certainly emotional battles, dog owner Wendy Willard has succeeded in having the 22 counts of animal cruelty charges against her dropped.

Willard owns Murder Hollow Bassets, a hunt pack recognized and respected in that unique community. On July 27, 2009 the Pennsylvania SPCA investigated a noise complaint on her property. Willard said later that she had never heard about any such problems. When she first refused access by the people she certainly had a right to mistrust, they returned with a large number of vehicles, officers, and a warrant.

Willard had never been told about a new law which limited the number of dogs she could own to 12, nor was she given an opportunity to reduce her kennel numbers responsibly on her own. Because she was found to have 23, she was pressured (they threatened to take ALL the dogs) to give up 11 dogs, which she did, under great duress. Later, they charged her with the 22 counts of animal cruelty.

Before they charged her with any crime, and without her knowlege or permission, they spayed/neutered all the dogs they stole from her property, and euthanised one when something went wrong. The other ten dogs became sick while in PSPCA custody, and then were sold through an unlicensed "rescue" group before any hearing was held.

All the charges against her were defended from the start, and a circus of hearings, debates, and discussions spanned the following many months, until now. I have posted on this subject before, but I'm happy to report the latest: all the charges were dropped.

So what happens now? What kind of person is Wendy Willard? I've read that her dogs were actually very well cared for and her kennel kept in good conditin. She never bred a litter for sale, if that is a problem for you. But her reputation is still damaged, and the location of her kennel's carefully bred, raised, and trained dogs stolen by the PSCPA is uncertain.

What would you do? Well, rumor has it that she is not done fighting back. She was mistreated, her constitutional rights trampled, and she certainly has some legal costs she has a right to get back. Wendy represents all that responsible dog owners should fight for, and her case flushes up all that bad government and animal rights zealots are about.

There is an effort to help her handle her legal expenses. If you want to donate, and in the long run, help yourself and other responsible dog owners, you can go online to: Hound Defense Fund - home page (note that in other locations, the website link was misspelled), or make checks and money orders out to:

Wendy Willar/Escrow Defense Account
Hound Defense fund
1229 Chestnut Street, #107
Philadelphia, PA 19107
 

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I spoke with Barbara Wicklund (who actually saw the condition of the kennel and remaining hounds) at Nationals and according to what she was telling me it's pretty horrific what the PSPCA tried to pull off here - the exaggerations and outright lies that were told.
 

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The problems with the PSPCA which can't even run a health and clean shelter are not unique. It will alway be a problem when states defer their law enforcement responcibilities to private advocacy groups. Incidents like this actual are used to boost fundraising etc.
 

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" Willard said later that she had never heard about any such problems."
I thought she threw away the first notice left on her door.

" When she first refused access by the people she certainly had a right to mistrust, they returned with a large number of vehicles, officers, and a warrant."
This was the result of ignoring the first legal notice .

"Willard had never been told about a new law which limited the number of dogs she could own to 12,"
Told by whom? Dog owners have a responsibility to know the laws pertaining to their situation in their own communities, especially if they own a large number of animals.


nor was she given an opportunity to reduce her kennel numbers responsibly on her own. Because she was found to have 23, she was pressured (they threatened to take ALL the dogs) to give up 11 dogs, which she did, under great duress. Later, they charged her with the 22 counts of animal cruelty.
The dogs were standing in water and had visible parasites.

and then were sold through an unlicensed "rescue" group before any hearing was held.
The phrase 'unlicensed rescue group' is interesting- I believe Tri-State is the rescue in question- they are a legal (what' license' are they lacking?) and well established rescue- this is an unfounded attempt to cast doubt on their credibility

" Wendy represents all that responsible dog owners should fight for, and her case flushes up all that bad government and animal rights zealots are about."
Wendy's dogs were not being kept in decent conditions, and she threw rocks at the vehicles of the officials who came to talk with her.She is not an innocent victim in this matter.

" If you want to donate, and in the long run, help yourself and other responsible dog owners,"
If you keep your dogs in good condition and are in compliance with your local laws, you don't have anything to worry about. These fear tactics to raise money really don't sit well with me.

I don't see any heroes in this situation, and I think it's terrible that one of the dogs died after being spayed. But this issue is being used to promote a particular political agenda, and I find that in itself disturbing.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
" Willard said later that she had never heard about any such problems."
I thought she threw away the first notice left on her door.
They said they left one, I cannot recall whether she said she received it or not
I do know that the one time I got a note from bylaw it was a business card tucked in my screen door which I did not see until the following morning. If in the interim it had fallen out or blown away I would not have seen it at all.

" When she first refused access by the people she certainly had a right to mistrust, they returned with a large number of vehicles, officers, and a warrant."
This was the result of ignoring the first legal notice .
So If the above scenario unfolds and the "notice" falls out of my door so I never see it, I deserve to have a swat team descending on my house?

"Willard had never been told about a new law which limited the number of dogs she could own to 12,"
Told by whom? Dog owners have a responsibility to know the laws pertaining to their situation in their own communities, especially if they own a large number of animals.
Actually, the law in question applied to a RESIDENCE, not to a barn or kennel. It was misapplied in this case.


nor was she given an opportunity to reduce her kennel numbers responsibly on her own. Because she was found to have 23, she was pressured (they threatened to take ALL the dogs) to give up 11 dogs, which she did, under great duress. Later, they charged her with the 22 counts of animal cruelty.
The dogs were standing in water and had visible parasites.
According to people who were there, recent rains had been so heavy that there was standing water EVERYWHERE and roads had been washed out. The dogs did not have parasites, the alleged "ticks" on the photo that was released were actually scars.
And if the dogs were in such horrible conditions why did they not simply take ALL the dogs?

I think that it was unethical for Tri-5tate to place these dogs while legal action was occurring. Someone who was present stated that all the dogs were spayed within a
forty minute period and that the one bitch had to be euthanized because the surgery was botched.
" Wendy represents all that responsible dog owners should fight for, and her case flushes up all that bad government and animal rights zealots are about."
Wendy's dogs were not being kept in decent conditions, and she threw rocks at the vehicles of the officials who came to talk with her.She is not an innocent victim in this matter.
According to the person who actually saw the kennel, the only repairs required were the replacement of a couple of ceiling tiles.

" If you want to donate, and in the long run, help yourself and other responsible dog owners,"
If you keep your dogs in good condition and are in compliance with your local laws, you don't have anything to worry about. These fear tactics to raise money really don't sit well with me.
Sorry, but I've heard enough first hand accounts of people who've had run-ins with overzealous animal control agents to know that even if your animals are properly cared for you DO have something to worry about.
 

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I don't claim to know the whole situation but I find it very hard to believe that the dog owner was just a helpless victim here.

It is your own responsibility to know the laws that you are to be held accountable for. There are limits on the number of dogs you can own just about everywhere and I don't buy the idea that she had no idea such a thing existed. No, I don't know how many dogs I can have in my city, but if I felt the need to have 22 dogs I might make the effort to look into it. I do know the local laws in my city regarding registering your dogs and that's without being told by an officer.

As far as I know, leaving a warning or notice is just a courtesy anyway, not required.

In most areas, spaying and neutering is required by law when a dog is adopted out by a shelter or rescue.

Yes there is much room for improvement for animal control in many places. Here in Dallas they are going through major changes after a few horrible incidents recently. But the only way they will ever improve is if responsible dog lovers take action, not turn against them and call them "overzealous".
 

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I read up on this case, and the more I read, the more confused I got.

Who is actually right and who is wrong?
 

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I read up on this case, and the more I read, the more confused I got.

Who is actually right and who is wrong?
I think wrongs were committed on both sides. I hesitate to say who was "more" wrong without knowing more about the situation.

I will say that I don't see how the rescue is at fault for much of it... They are really at the mercy of the directions given to them by the people in charge of the case. It's the job of the law enforcement to keep them up to date on the case. If the law enforcement specifically told them not to adopt out the dogs, that's another story. If they didn't tell them to hold the dogs, it is the purpose of the rescue to rehome them.

A botched surgery is the fault of the vet that performed the surgery, which probably has no affiliation with the rescue. Rescues are paying customers just like a pet owner, though they do often get discounted services.
 

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1. The Definition of residence is quite clear in Philidelphia code and it specifical excudes out buildings as such There was no actual violation of the Phildelphia limit on the number of dogs.
REGULATIONS FOR GRANTING WAIVERS FOR
KEEPING MORE THAN TWELVE ADULT DOGS OR CATS

Pursuant to Section 10-103(8) of The Philadelphia Code, it is unlawful to keep more than twelve (12) adult dogs or cats combined in a residential dwelling. Section 10-103(8) permits the Department of Public Health to grant waivers to this requirement.
Section 10-100
8) Maximum Number of Dogs and Cats Allowed. No residential dwelling unit shall keep a total of more than twelve (12) adult dogs or cats combined, of which no more than four (4) may be unneutered, unless the Department of Public Health has been notified and granted a waiver.
City of Philidelphia Code Definitions
20) Building. A structure having a roof;

(21) Buildings – Classes.
(a) A detached building is one with no party wall or walls and which has a rear yard, a set-back and two (2) side yards on intermediate lots, or one (1) side yard, a rear yard and two (2) set-backs (when required herein) on corner lots;
(b) A semi-detached building is one (1) of two (2) buildings with a party wall common to both;
(c) An attached building is one with two (2) or more party walls, or one (1) party wall in the case of a building at the end of a group of attached buildings

...38) Dog Kennel. See "Stables", § 14-102(116)(b); 15

...42) Dwelling. A building, any portion of which is used or intended to be used for living or sleeping by human occupants;
(43) Dwellings – Classes.
(a) A single-family dwelling shall be a dwelling occupied as the home or residence of one (1) family;
(b) A duplex dwelling shall be a dwelling occupied as the home or residence of two (2) families, under one (1) roof, each family occupying a single unit;
(c) A multiple dwelling shall be a dwelling occupied by three (3) or more families, including rooming and boarding houses and similar dwellings, except hotels, apartment hotels and motels;
(d) "Detached Dwelling", "Semi-Detached Dwelling", and "Attached Dwelling", see "Buildings", § 14-102(19); 17

... (59) Group Dwellings. One (1) or more structures intended for single-family, two-family, or multi-family occupancy on a lot. A structure for group dwellings shall be defined as any space enclosed within continuous exterior walls;

(125) Stables.
(a) Private Stable. A building for housing domestic animals when not conducted as a business;
(b) Public Stables or Dog Kennels. Any place or premises where dogs or other animals are sequestered during or for the primary purpose of boarding, training or breeding;
Obviously Most of the dogs were not housed in a dwelling but a kennel which is not subject to the Philidelphia Limits And for the record stable are allowed in residential areas unde Philly code CHAPTER 14-200. RESIDENTIAL DISTRICTS


This will undoubtable be one area of future litigation the Use of false information to obtain the Surrender of dogs, that Wnedy was in violation of the Philly dog and cat limit. Also given that there is no penalty given in this section it fall on the general provision of fines, So the penalty for too many dogs is a fine not removal of dogs in the first place. But this a a common tacked of the PSPCA and other spca that have enforcement athourity. That is to bully partial volantary surender with the threat of Prossecution for Animal Cruelty and Given the Problems the PSPCA has in maitaining Healthy Premisis it is a dificult proposition for any one that has any conerns for animal that they be confined there for the prolonged period that a court case takes.




2. The surgery was performed on a 11 year old dog by the PSPCA with one of their in house vets so the do maintain liability,

3.
As far as I know, leaving a warning or notice is just a courtesy anyway, not required
not under Philly code there is a specific duty and requirments a notice must meet. The Business card left on the door does not meet the standard.

Notice of Violation
§ 1-112. Notices of Violation.
(1) For the purposes of enforcing any provision of the Code, or any regulation adopted under any provision of the Code, notices of violation may be issued by police officers or any other person authorized to enforce ordinances.
(2) Whenever a police officer or any other official authorized to enforce ordinances observes a violation of the Code, the officer shall hand to the violator or leave upon or affix to the premises where the violation occurred a printed notice of violation. Such notice shall bear the date, time and nature of the violation, when known, the identity of the violator, the address of the violator or the address where the violation occurred, the amount to be remitted in response to the notice of violation, and the penalty which can be imposed by the court for the violation; shall be signed by the person issuing the notice; and shall bear the police officer’s badge number or other official identification number identifying the person issuing the notice.
4. The PSPCA appears to have a history of claim feece covered animal and showing pictures of them when in fact it is only mud. In The murder Hallow case they enforcement action was taken shortly after an unprecidented rain fall in the area totaling over 6"
 

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The notice of violation that you've quoted doesn't specify when it's given. If they give it to her when arrive to take the dogs, that's still within the code. Like I said, advanced notice (a warning) is a courtesy.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
The notice of violation that you've quoted doesn't specify when it's given. If they give it to her when arrive to take the dogs, that's still within the code. Like I said, advanced notice (a warning) is a courtesy.
That's probably because the notice of violation indicates a possible fine, not confiscation of property, therefore no "advance" notice should be necessary:

"the amount to be remitted in response to the notice of violation, and the penalty which can be imposed by the court for the violation;"

Then of course there's the fact that there WAS NO VIOLATION in the first place.

Really, if you've got four dogs in a two dog zoned area, do you think they should suddenly show up at your door and take two of your dogs?

From what I can see, she was going along minding her own business NOT violating any laws, now her reputation has been dragged through the mud, one of her dogs is dead, ten are missing (three of which are actually owned by someone else, which she told the AC officer who assured her that the owner would get their dogs back), her pack has been decimated, and even though she's been vindicated in court people STILL want to insist she's a bad person.
 

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Then of course there's the fact that there WAS NO VIOLATION in the first place.
Which is the case and even in the case of a violation the penelty on Philly statuate is a fine
. Fines and Penalties.

(1) Unless otherwise provided, the penalty for violation of any provision of the Code or any regulation adopted under it is a fine not exceeding three hundred (300) dollars for each offense. Each day the violation continues is a separate offense.
(2) For violations that are designated elsewhere in this Code as "Class II" offenses, the maximum fine shall be as follows:
(a) for any violation committed between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2005, seven hundred (700) dollars for each violation; and
(b) for any violation committed on January 1, 2006 or thereafter, one thousand (1,000) dollars for each violation.
(3) For violations that are designated in this Code as "Class III" offenses, the maximum fine shall be as follows:
(a) for any violation committed between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2005, seven hundred (700) dollars for each violation;
(b) for any violation committed between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2006, one thousand one hundred (1,100) dollars for each violation;
(c) for any violation committed between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2007, one thousand five hundred (1,500) dollars for each violation;
(d) for any violation committed between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2008, one thousand nine hundred (1,900) dollars for each violation; and
(e) for any violation committed on January 1, 2009 or thereafter, two thousand (2,000) dollars for each violation.
(4) Where the Code provides alternative penalties or remedies, they shall be cumulative and the imposition of any one such penalty or remedy shall not prevent the appropriate City agency from invoking any other penalty or remedy provided for.
But of course that was never mentioned the choice give was voluntarily give up 11 dogs or we will take all of them. Which is sop for such orgs because it limits their liability. That would habe been the end of the story had it not been for the press and up roar that put PSPCA back angainst the wall and the opted for going on offense rather than defend an indefensible practice. Hence the charges, some on dogs that were not removed.


The problem is when a goverment deffers it responsibility to law enforcement to a Private enterprise that garners much of it funding/fundrasing through enforcement actions There are going to be abuses, a lot of them most of which go completely under the radar screen because those that suffer then do not have the means to fight back,

even though she's been vindicated in court people STILL want to insist she's a bad person.
Problem is no one is ever vindicated in court. It is whether ther is enough evedince to prove quilit or not. Proving inocence is exceedingly rare.
 

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If there is such a tremendous problem with the law enforcement here and/or the specific SPCA then the local citizens have a responsibility to take action. If they don't, things like this will continue to happen and they will have no one to blame but themselves.

I'm not saying that she's a bad person or that the law enforcement or SPCA were in the right. I will say that I don't see how anyone can care for that many dogs properly short of being a millionaire.

You expect me to believe that this dog is in the best of care?
 

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I see an old dog who needs a bath - hardly surprising considering the reported amount of rainfall prior to the raid. I've seen old dogs that looked a lot worse and were receiving excellent care.
I will say that I don't see how anyone can care for that many dogs properly short of being a millionaire.
And that's it, isn't it? You just don't think anyone should have that many dogs. Just because YOU can't imagine caring for that many, you think no one else can do it either. Well, I know plenty of people who can and do. They're not millionaires, just ordinary people with ordinary jobs who make their dogs a priority. Heck, at one point I had 18 hounds to care for - single handed. They never went without. When you have proper routines and equipment its not that hard.
 

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My understanding is that the court mandated that Wendy install a french drain so that her dogs would not end up standing in water when it rained, and that she would be subject to random inspections until Sept. 30th. At that point,if she had complied, there would be another court date and the case would be closed and the cruelty charges would be dropped. I sounds like that has happened.

After the cruelty charges are dropped, she is eligible to apply for a Pennsylvania kennel license which for some reason she did not hold prior to this incident.
 

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I see an old dog who needs a bath - hardly surprising considering the reported amount of rainfall prior to the raid. I've seen old dogs that looked a lot worse and were receiving excellent care.
UPDATE: The picture above shows one of the Bassets found at Willard's kennel at the time of the raid. Look closely at those little black dots on the dog's face. Those are ticks. PSPCA officers say all the dogs in Willard's kennel were covered in ticks and some were suffering from Lyme Disease. Many had severe cases of parasites too.
That sounds like a problem that needs much more attention than a bath.

All I'm saying is I don't see how she is an innocent victim here.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Again, according to my source who was there, these are outright lies. The spots on the face are scars, not ticks, the dogs did not have parasites and they did not have lyme disease. She also said that the only repairs required were the replacement of a couple of ceiling tiles. Willard had been individually licensing her dogs for years and the kennel building did not fall under the 12 dog limit.
 

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she is eligible to apply for a Pennsylvania kennel license which for some reason she did not hold prior to this incident.
And was not required to have as she had less than 25 dogs during the year. The purpose of the original search warant and the reason that State Wardens were ther was because of a violation of the kennel laws but the quickly withdrew and became uninvolved when no violation of the law was found. Which begs the question of how truthfull the original application for a search warrant was?
 
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