Pennsylvania Shuts Down Five Puppy Mills

Enforcement action comes under state's new Dog Law

The State of Pennsylvania says it has taken action against five commercial dog breeding operations in the state, which it says were among the state's "most notorious" puppy mills.

The Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement took the enforcement action today.

Scarlet-Maple Farm Kennel in Lancaster County, owned by Daniel P. Esh; the adjoining Twin Maple Farm Kennel in Lancaster County, owned by John E. Esh; Burkholder Farm Kennel in Berks County, owned by Aaron Burkholder; CC Pets, formerly Puppy Love, Kennel in Lancaster County, owned by Joyce Stoltzfus; and Almost Heaven Kennel in Lehigh County, owned by Derbe "Skip" Eckhart, have all been closed under the Pennsylvania Dog Law's provisions.

"The Dog Law, signed in October 2008 by Governor Rendell, gave the bureau enforcement power to make sure kennels that do not meet the standards of the law can no longer operate in Pennsylvania," Special Deputy Secretary for Dog Law Enforcement Jessie L. Smith said. "In signing the law, Governor Rendell raised the bar for commercial breeding kennels in Pennsylvania."

The Commonwealth Court recently issued a ruling upholding the Department of Agriculture's decision to refuse Aaron Burkholder's 2009 application for a commercial kennel license. The license was revoked in 2008 and refused in 2009 because the bureau found numerous violations of the Dog Law over multiple inspections.

Later, the department provided information from inspection reports to the Humane Society of Berks County, leading to Burkholder's animal cruelty conviction. Under the new law, a kennel license cannot be issued to someone convicted of animal cruelty.

Daniel P. Esh's commercial kennel license was revoked in 2008 because of poor kennel conditions. During multiple inspections in 2007 and 2008, dog wardens found moldy food, poor maintenance, excessive feces, rodents and inadequate cage sizes for the dogs, among other violations.

Because of those violations, the bureau refused to grant Esh a commercial kennel license in 2009. This decision was appealed to Commonwealth Court, but the appeal was eventually withdrawn.

"Aggressive enforcement of the new dog law has contributed to closing these notorious commercial kennels and has improved the welfare of dogs in Pennsylvania," Smith said.

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