11 Aug 2009

SPCA Outrage in Philadelphia 7: PSPCA: “We’ll Show You!”

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Here’s due process PSPCA style.

The PSPCA arrives in a massive raid expecting to find what?… an illegal puppy mill? A ring of illegal immigrant bassets importing cocaine in their collars? a group of fanatical Islamist basset hounds plotting terrorist acts?

Whatever it was, they don’t find it. But the PSPCA is never wrong. They do find a grievous breach of public order actively underway.

A middle-aged, retired school teacher residing at a home located on a 340-acre nature center, the largest privately-owned tract of land within the city limits of Philadelphia, is found to be housing 11 basset hounds possibly in excess of the residential dwelling limit prescribed in the Philadelphia Code Animal section § 10-103(8).

Whether, in fact, a kennel attached to a barn on the property is “a residential dwelling unit” is open to question and interpretation.

There is also some question about whether the City of Philadelphia by accepting fees and licensing Ms. Willard’s basset hounds for all those years, since 1986 when the 12 animal limit was imposed, and in which same year Ms. Willard founded the Murder Hill Bassets, without demurral over the number of licenses it was issuing, had not implicitly authorized her possession of those hounds.

But, let’s leave all that aside. Suppose Ms. Willard was guilty, caught red-handed in possession of eleven more basset hounds than the Phildelphia Code permits? What does the Law say?

It says § 10-105(8a):

The penalty for the first violation of any provision of this Section shall be a minimum fine of $100.

As I read over the law, I see nothing about confiscation. I see nothing in this provision specifying forfeiture of animals as a penalty for this kind of violation.

As the new PSPCA release demonstrates quite vividly, Wendy Willard is not in trouble for the basically trivial offense of (perhaps) violating a number of hounds limit. She is in trouble for failing to adequately and unconditionally surrender and grovel before the authority of the thugs and bozos of the PSPCA.

The scope of the tyranny we’re looking at here can be seen in reference to the reality of the situation. Wendy Willard actually did surrender completely. She signed the papers they intimidated her into signing (giving away 11 hounds). She agreed to neuter all but 4 of her carefully-bred, twenty-year-old pack. She kept silence.

What got Wendy into more trouble, and what is causing her bassets to be kept locked in tiny cages, is PSPCA retaliation for that anonymous person posting the original story of the raid on the Internet, and other people, Betsy Parks, me, all the people discussing this on bulletin boards, email lists, and blogs. We questioned PSPCA behavior and authority. We asked about those basset hounds, and here is the result.

PSPCA news release, August 10, 2009, Murder Hollow Basset Hound Update:

On Friday, August 7, 2009, Humane Law Enforcement officers from the Pennsylvania SPCA conducted a pre-arranged follow-up inspection of Murder Hollow, the location of an illegal basset hound kennel in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia, PA. The owner had previously surrendered 11 dogs during the officers’ visit on Monday, July 27, 2009, due to unsanitary conditions, lack of veterinary care and more dogs than allowed by law.

Despite the time allotted to the owner to make improvements, overall living conditions remained poor at the second inspection, resulting in 11 citations for unsanitary conditions, 11 citations for lack of veterinary care and two tickets for barking. Graphic photos of the dogs detailing their condition and their housing have been turned over to the district attorney’s office.

We appreciate the continued outpouring of support for these dogs from the Bassett community.

5 Feedbacks on "SPCA Outrage in Philadelphia 7: PSPCA: “We’ll Show You!”"

Cathy Springer

The more I read about this mess, the more horrified I am that this behavior could happen in this country and, worse yet, go unchecked. If the information about one hound possibly not surviving the “rescue” is correct, the shame of this action is magnified ten-fold.


there is a clear an definative definition of dwelling unit in the Philly code”

the problem is if the Philly Gov meant residentail property that could have said so as in the definition note above the term premise would cover all buildings structures dwellings and the grounds themeselves but they chose not to.

copy of the waiver legislation can be found here

” Dwelling unit: A single unit providing complete, independent living facilities for one or more persons, including permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation, including such units contained within residential condominiums.”

Most barns are not constructed to meet the definition of dwelling unit I do believe the PSCA humane Officer misrepresented the Philly code and I think this is a common problem that the Philly Department of Health say in its April 29 minutes about propose waiver to limits that it is supose to have in effect since 1992 http://www.phila.gov/Health/pdfs/BoH-Minutes-April-2009.pdf
“Current regulations limit to 12 the number of cats and dogs combined at a residential property,
however you are mistaken on the remdy’s allowed on by the Law to animal control officers

First § 10-105(8a): pertains exclusive to dog nuisence which I quess is Philly slang for a defficating. That is it is the fime for failing to pick up after the dogs

§ 10-102 (ii)
“The Department of Public Health shall authorize Animal Control Officers to monitor and enforce the provisions of this Chapter. Animal Control Officers are empowered to enforce the provisions of this Chapter, and shall issue orders or citations or impound animals or otherwise act to enforce the provisions of this Chapter, or to act as animal control officers as designated in applicable state law.”

§ 10-102(IV)
“Upon notice of any violation of this Chapter or any regulation or standard promulgated thereunder, the Department of Public Health or an animal control officer shall conduct an inspection and when necessary take appropriate action including but not limited to the issuance of fines as described in this Chapter. The Department of Public Health or an animal control officer shall recommend to the Department of Licenses and Inspections suspension or revocation of licenses where appropriate.”



In my daily travels through 3 states including PA, I most certainly will not be championing your organization as a cause to support. Twelve years in the pet product industry and I can’t think of a time I’ve been more disappointed in a group-what a waste of benefactor’s money and what a misuse of power.

Virginia Barishek

So basically, PSPCA is punishing Ms. Willard–and essentially abusing the dogs they are supposedly “protecting”–because her supporters exercised their right to free speech?!?! The city of Philadelphia is having a massive budget crisis right now–the mayor is threatening layoffs of police, firefighters, and other “essential” personnel. I respectfully suggest that he instead layoff the entire Philadelphia SPCA. If he can’t do that, then immediately end whatever subsidy the city gives them!! THIS IS AN OUTRAGE.


Philadelphia must not like Hounds. First they use gestapo tactics against a defenseless woman to seize her Basset Hounds, then they sign Michael Vick to the Eagles. I gave my Eagles shirt to MY hounds, which they shreaded in the yard. Have cancelled all plans to travel to Philly in the future, as I do not want to support the economy of a city who hates Hound-lovers. Didn’t I learn in school that Philly was the birthplace of America’s Freedom and “we the people” would not be subjected to such violations against our rights?


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