State Police launch animal cruelty investigation at Mountainside Pet Rescue in Franklin County

LETTERKENNY TWP., FRANKLIN COUNTY, Pa. -- State Police begin to investigate a potential animal cruelty case out of Franklin County.

Investigators tell Fox 43 they're looking into sanitary conditions at the Mountainside Pet Rescue which houses around 90 dogs and other animals.

"90 dogs, a pot belly big, a miniature horse, and a donkey," described Trooper Brent Miller, Pennsylvania State Police.

Trooper Miller says State Police received a tip, and investigators immediately began looking into the facility's sanitary conditions.

"They have standards they have to abide by," said Trooper Miller.

The owner of Mountainside Pet Rescue, George Statler, tells Fox 43 dogs are his life. It got harder for Statler to take care of the animals after a fire in the Spring which destroyed three animal houses.

"To think somebody were to think these animals are abused, and I'm glad you're here because you're going to be able to see," said Statler.

He takes Fox 43 around his property and shows us all of his rescued dogs. He then brings us to his pet cemetery where there's hundreds of graves for the cats and dogs he's cared for over the years.

"See the goosebumps - that's true love there, that's true love!" Statler exclaimed.

Those convicted of animal cruelty could face increased penalties - that's because Governor Wolf signed House Bill 1238 into law, which includes Libre's Law. The new legislation allows district attorneys to pursue harsher penalties in animal cruelty cases. Trooper Miller says the law's on people's minds.

"People pay more attention when they go to facilities too. They're going to start looking at conditions. and if something isn't right, because of Libre's law being brought to the forefront, they're going to say something," Trooper Miller explained.

So far, no charges have been filed against the shelter or Statler. He says he just wants to keep his buddies where they belong.

"I almost died for these guys. I love these guys more than anything," said Statler.

The animals are still at Mountainside Pet Rescue, and State Police tell Fox 43 that's because they're  in good health. However, authorities say it could change.