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Thursday, 03 February 2005 19:00

CAPS Investigation of Puppy Love Kennel 2005

Stoltzfus, Joyce

Joyce Stoltzfus
Puppy Love Kennel
267 Riverview Rd.
Peach Bottom, PA 17563

CAPS Investigation: 2/4/05
USDA license would be required if S. 1139 passes

Approximately 300 dogs and puppies. Breeds: Pekingese, Puggles, Pit Bull Terriers, Golden Retrievers, Beagles, Cock-a-poos, Boxers, various mixed breeds

Puppy Love Kennel had two separate facilities, one of indoor pens housing puppies only, and another of outdoor pens housing adult dogs and puppies.

Indoor puppy pens
These pens were inside a wooden barn about 25 feet wide and 40 feet long. The barn had a peaked roof, a doorway accessing it on one side, and five puppy pens on each of its longer sides. There was artificial lighting and concrete flooring in the barn.

Each pen measured about eight feet long and eight feet wide, with four-foot-tall wooden walls between pens and on the hallway-side of each pen. There were about a dozen puppies in each pen, each about eight to twelve weeks old and of varying breeds, including Pit Bull Terriers, Puggles, German Shepherds, Beagles, and various mixed breeds.

Each of the hallway walls had a sliding wooden doorway with a metal latch on the outside. Metal bars ran from the top of each wall to the ceiling. One side of the hallway had several bags of wood shavings piled up against it in three different places. The pens themselves had a layer of wooden shavings several inches thick thrown over their floors. More than 24 hours’ accumulation of feces was evident, as dried feces were visible in the shavings that had been thrown over old feces and urine not removed.

Each pen contained two plastic food dishes, a foot in diameter and four inches deep. They were filled to their tops with about three days’ worth of food for each pen and covered with a tan powder. Plastic water dishes in each pen were filled with murky brown water.

One black German Shepherd puppy, less than two pounds in weight, appeared emaciated. The stomach appeared sucked in and its ribs, spine, and hips clearly visible under its taught skin. One pen contained a white Pit Bull puppy, which appeared to weigh two pounds. The puppy appeared lethargic, convulsed slightly as though it was coughing, and had thick green mucous draining from its eyes and nostrils. The puppy’s eyes were nearly swollen shut, and it did not move at all while observed for several minutes, other than turning its head from side to side.

Outdoor pens
The other part of this kennel, within a hundred feet of the puppy barn, consisted of several rows of outdoor pens surrounded by a six-foot-high chain link fence about 60 feet long and 40 feet wide. The chain link sections surrounding the outdoor rows had green plastic strips set in them which blocked view into the compound from the outside.

Each row had ten adjacent pens, each measuring about seven feet long, three feet wide, and four feet high. Each cage was made of chain link wiring with the back two feet of each cage enclosed in wood with a doggy door framed in metal allowing access between these sections. Each cage contained five to eight dogs of various breeds and ages. Pekingese, Boxers, Golden Retrievers, Lhasa Apsos, Beagles, Basset Hounds, German Shepherds, Australian Cattle Dogs, Maltese, Jack Russell Terriers, American Eskimos, and various mixed breeds were present. All of the dogs with white fur had yellow stains in their fur, and many dogs had wet fur.

The first row of pens against a 40-foot section of the privacy fence had the sides with chain-link doors facing to the inside of the compound. The second row of pens faced the first, the third row backed to the second row, and the fourth row faced the third row. Two rows of cages that faced each other had another row of four cages in a perpendicular row between them.

All were raised above the ground by two-foot-high wooden stilts and had treated wire flooring. Wooden beams framed the bottoms of the pens. All of the wood was painted red, with paint peeling in many areas and revealing a white coating underneath. The metal bars at the bottom of the chain link walls were all rusting. One pen, containing two Boxers and a Lhasa Apso mix, had its front chain link wall separated from the metal bar at its base. Metal sheets were used as roofs over the pens. There were several lights placed on the roofs of the kennel rows, with wiring running along the roofs of the pens. The walls with the doggy doors were covered with while plastic sheeting that had brown stains.

Each cage had a black plastic water bucket attached to its front chain-link door. A water spigot was in inside the kennel, with a water hose strewn across the ground. About three inches of snow and ice were on the ground of this kennel at the time of investigation.

The pens themselves were over concrete flooring, and there were several days’ accumulation of feces under them. There was bright and dark blood as well as mucous in the feces under several cages. One row of cages facing into the compound had the flooring below it raised up about 45 degrees so that urine and runny feces would wash down away from it, though large piles of feces were resting on the grade itself.

Sick, wet, dirty dogs
Several of the dogs and puppies in the outside pens were sick. One was a black German Shepherd mix weighing about 35 pounds with hair loss around its eyes. Another was an Australian Cattle dog puppy, about two months old and weighing about 25 pounds, that had thick green mucous build-up around its right eye and draining from its nostrils.

Two Maltese mixes, each weighing about ten pounds, had dirt and feces covering their soaked and yellow-stained fur. Another pen, containing about five dogs that each weighed about ten pounds, housed a black Poodle mix with large fur mats covering the dog’s face and body.

A black Cock-a-poo puppy weighing about five pounds had thick green mucous discharge from its nostrils. There were four other puppies in the pen with the sick Cock-a-poo, including three mixed-breed puppies each weighing about five to eight pound and a Boxer puppy weighing about 15 pounds.

In one pen was a Boxer weighing about 50 pounds, whose right eye was nearly swollen shut and draining a clear discharge. A Lhasa Apso mix weighing about 15 pounds had long curved toenails and severely matted fur around its face so that its eyes could not be seen and its nose was barely distinguishable.

Several other pens contained dogs and puppies of significantly different weights, such as one pen which housed a 40-pound Corgi mix, a 45-pound short-haired mixed breed, and a Jack Russell mix weighing about 25 pounds.

In several pens, the number and/or size of the dogs precluded all of the dogs occupying the boxes at the backs of their cages at one time and lying in a normal manner or turning about freely. For example, pens housed five dogs that each weighed 25 to 35 pounds, and other pens housed six to eight dogs that were five to 15 pounds in weight.

AG Fisher accuses Lancaster Co. dog seller of selling sick puppies; Lawsuit seeks restitution, enhanced fines and ban on doing business in PA

Issued: Friday, December 5, 2003
Contact: 717-787-5211

HARRISBURG - Attorney General Mike Fisher's Bureau of Consumer Protection today filed a lawsuit against a Lancaster County dog seller accused of selling numerous puppies that were sick, diseased, genetically flawed, misrepresented and/or falsely characterized as eligible for American Kennel Club (AKC) registration. The lawsuit alleges violations of Pennsylvania's Consumer Protection Law, Dog Purchaser and Protection Act or "Puppy Lemon Law" and a prior 2000 consent agreement with Fisher's Office. The suit followed an investigation into numerous complaints from consumers in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey and Delaware.

Fisher identified the defendants as Joyce and Raymond Stoltzfus, doing business as Puppy Love Kennel, 267 Riverview Road, Peach Bottom, Lancaster County.

"We allege that the defendants should have known that the puppies they were handling were not fit for purchase and should not have been sold to consumers," Fisher said. "Their failure to comply with our previous legal action plus the seriousness of these new allegations justify our request to the court to forever revoke their right to sell or participate in the sale of dogs in Pennsylvania."

According to investigators, the defendants between 2000 and 2003 sold dozens of puppies to consumers that were sick, had contagious or infectious diseases, congenital or genetic defects or were falsely characterized as healthy purebreds that would be recognized by the AKC for registration.

In the majority of complaints filed with Fisher's Office, consumers claimed that the defendants misrepresented the health status of the puppies sold despite receiving their Guarantee of Good Health certificates as required under law. Some of the alleged health problems included heart defects, heart murmurs, hip dysplasia, parvo virus, distemper, kidney failure, pneumonia, cancer, lameness, kennel cough, coccidia, giardia parasites, worms, mange, upper respiratory infections, malnutrition, vomiting, scabies, mites and fleas.

In some cases, consumers said that their puppies required moderate to extensive veterinary care soon after the date of purchase. In the worst cases, some new pet owners said that their puppies either died or had to be euthanized. The lawsuit also accuses the defendants of making false and/or misleading representations about the puppy's age, purebred status and/or worthiness to be registered with the AKC. In reality, the AKC in July 1990 notified defendant Joyce Stoltzfus that her privileges had been suspended and that it will no longer accept her puppy litter registrations. Consumers learned, after purchase, that the puppies were not eligible for AKC registration papers. AKC registration implies that a puppy has the characteristics and standards of a particular breed that are considered the most desirable for those seeking a purebred.

Consumers also claimed that the defendants either ignored their requests for payment of veterinary bills or other medical treatment up to the price of the puppy as required under the "Puppy Lemon Law." In cases when the defendants did respond, consumers said they became obstructive, confrontational and/or hostile.

Fisher said his Bureau of Consumer Protection in 1997 filed a lawsuit against the defendants involving similar allegations. The lawsuit was filed prior to the passage of Pennsylvania's Dog Purchaser and Protection Act or "Puppy Lemon Law." The suit was resolved in a 2000 consent agreement requiring the defendants to pay more than $35,000 in restitution and fines and cease all future violations of the Consumer Protection Law. The second lawsuit includes alleged Consumer Protection Law violations which violate the prior consent agreement.

"For that reason, I'm asking the court to impose an enhanced penalty of $5,000 for each violation of the consent agreement in addition to the fines associated with denying consumers their rights under the Puppy Lemon Law," Fisher said.

The lawsuit asks the court to:

  • Require the defendants to pay appropriate restitution to consumers.
  • Permanently bar the defendants from owning or operating any business involving the sale of puppies or dogs in Pennsylvania.
  • Require the defendants to pay enhanced civil penalties of $5,000 for each violation of the Consumer Protection Law.
  • Require the defendants to pay civil penalties of $1,000 for each violation of the "Puppy Lemon Law" and $3,000 for each violation involving a consumer age 60 or older.
  • Appoint a receiver to determine and collect the defendants' assets to satisfy the court's order.The lawsuit was filed today in Commonwealth Court. The case is being handled by Senior Deputy Attorney General Seth A. Mendelsohn and Deputy Attorney General Jodi L. Zucco of Fisher's Bureau of Consumer Protection Office in Harrisburg.

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