DA announces charges against Libre’s former owner, calls for suspension of Lancaster Co. SPCA Exec. Dir.
LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa.–Pennsylvania State Police announced charges Thursday against a man who they say failed to provide adequate veterinary care to Libre.
Libre, the 4-month-old Boston terrier found emaciated and with severe mange, was rescued from a Lancaster County farm in July.
Benjamin S. Stoltzfus, 33, of Quarryville is charged with animal cruelty. He was also fined $904.97, according to court documents.
Investigators say Libre suffered severe physical distress and multiple ailments due to the lack of veterinary care. Stoltzfus failed to provide medical care Libre for approximately one month, according to court documents.
Stoltzfus admitted to police that he purposefully left Libre in a kennel where he believed the dog would die, court records state.
Additionally, the Lancaster County District Attorney is calling for the suspension of Susan Martin, an animal cruelty officer and executive director of the Lancaster County SPCA.
DA files petition to have Lancaster County SPCA Executive Director suspended
During a news conference at the Lancaster County Courthouse Thursday– District Attorney Craig Stedman announced his office has filed a petition seeking Martin’s suspension. In the petition, prosecutors allege that Martin conducted her authority to enforce cruelty laws in a “substandard” fashion.
The Lancaster County SPCA will not be enforcing animal cruelty offenses for the time being, Stedman said.
Lancaster County Detective Joanne Resh will serve as a general point of contact and will be assisting investigators during suspected animal abuse cases in the county, Stedman said. Pennsylvania State Police and municipal police department swill also investigate and charge in cases in their respective jurisdictions.
Overhauling Animal Cruelty Laws:
District Attorney Stedman said he will be asking legislators to make changes in current cruelty law statues. Specifically, increasing the grading of the offenses and creating stiffer penalties, upon conviction.
Currently, cruelty officers are appointed by Lancaster County’s President Judge–if the aspiring officer has completed the required hours of training.
There is no background check and no feedback is solicited from the district attorney, per current law.
Stedman is pushing to revamp the hiring requirements and appointment procedures for cruelty officers.
Background checks should be standard, Stedman said. He went on to say he believes the district attorney should have a voice–not veto power–in appointments of cruelty officers, whom have arrest powers and authority to enter private properties and seize animals and/or property.