10 Feb 2010

Murder Hollow Settlement Goes Nowhere

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Murder Hollow Bassets at 2009 Pack Trials

On January 12th, Philadelphia Community Court Judge Joseph J. O’Neill negotiated an agreement between attorneys for Wendy Willard, Master of the Murder Hollow Bassets, and the PSPCA intended to end the litigation resulting from the latter organization’s July 27, 2009 raid on the Murder Hollow kennels in which eleven hounds were confiscated.

Last month’s settlement terms included the return of a retired house dog named Osh Kosh to Willard and an arrangement that Willard would participate in determining the permanent placement of the ten other hounds. In return for which, Willard agreed to make some repairs to the kennels and submit to unannounced inspections over the course of the next five months.

Strangely, it turns out that PSPCA was not in a position at the time to honor this agreement and also seems to have entered into the agreement in bad faith.

The National Animal Interest Alliance (an animal owners’ advocacy organization) reports that ten of the Murder Hollow bassets were subsequently revealed to have been long since transferred to a regional basset rescue organization which placed the valuable pedigreed hunting hounds in exchange for a $225 fee as pets.

Five days before the trial resulting in the settlement it turns out the PSPCA could not fulfill, obviously at PSPCA’s instigation, Ms. Willard was accused by the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses and Inspections of operating a commercial kennel, issued a cease and desist order, and threatened with $300 per diem fines.

The Murder Hollow Bassets are, of course, a private organized hunting pack, and not a commercial kennel at all, as the L&I department soon discovered. This particular instance of harrassment seems ironic in the light of the fact that Tri-State Basset Hound Rescue, the organization which “rescued” Murder Hollow’s hounds to the tune of $225 apiece, and processes something on the order of 200 basset hounds per annum is itself not licensed as a kennel.

PSPCA was not only unable to comply with the portion of court settlement applying to the placement of ten hounds. PSPCA also proceeded to renege on its agreement to return the 8 year old house dog Osh Kosh, demanding as a condition for the hound’s return a payment of putative costs of $3000, mostly made up of boarding fees!

In the immediate aftermath of the settlement, PSPCA also continued its propaganda campaign against Murder Hollow, releasing through its own media outlet a single photograph showing an unhappy basset with an eye problem allegedly infested with ticks.

I saw that photograph at the time, but having no personal access to Murder Hollow’s side of the story decided to avoid commenting.

My own opinion is that it is extremely easy for a photograph of this kind to be misleading. Any basset hound being dragged off on a lead by strangers is going to look mightily unhappy. Bassets have a talent for looking lugubrious when displeased. Dirty doggie photos also don’t mean much. You can get a photo of my Tazy with a face covered in dirt very easily if you happen to take it anytime after he’s been digging.

Basset hounds do acquire scratches running through the woods, and pack dogs living together pick up minor injuries sometimes in kennels. A photograph of a single dog with something wrong with its eye obviously does not prove that dog was neglected.

The lyme disease claim is clearly suggestive of deliberate fraud. Lyme disease bearing ticks are extremely common in the woods and fields hunted by organized hound packs in the Eastern United States. It would be surprising to find a beagle, or basset, or pack-following human who wouldn’t test positive for lyme disease exposure. Karen caught it last year, and I deny being guilty of cruelty to wives. Pack hounds, of course, are treated for lyme disease when they are symptomatic. Unsymptomatic lyme exposure means absolutely nothing and is exactly the kind of opportunistic phony baloney charge that a corrupt animal welfare organization would fling around to justify its own abuses.

Ticks. The particular basset in the photo seems to have several ticks on its face, and I suspect there is a story there which I don’t know. Perhaps that basset is the aged house dog which just came back dirty and tick-infested from a nice long run on the 340-acre Nature Center in which the Willard home and the Murder Hollow kennels are located.

I don’t live near Philadelphia or hunt with Murder Hollow, but I know that several of the packs I do follow rely on Ivermectin, an anti-parasite medication, which one knowlegable hound breeder assured me causes ticks simply to drop dead shortly after they ingest a little of their victim’s blood. If Murder Hollow routinely uses Ivermectin, a hound coming home with some ticks on him would be meaningless. They’d all be dead the next day.

The PSPCA’s photo is less than probative, and it looks like Murder Hollow and the PSPCA are going back to court. I expect the judge will not be pleased to learn that PSPCA entered into agreements it could not and would not fulfill.

Earlier Murder Hollow posts.

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