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 Â§ 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 Â§ 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 officersâ€™ 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 attorneyâ€™s office.
We appreciate the continued outpouring of support for these dogs from the Bassett community.