Woman appealing animal cruelty convictions
A Susquehanna County woman appealing 78 convictions of animal cruelty from an alleged puppy mill operation near Thompson is getting another few days in court this week.
Jeanne Knapp is having her case heard in a judge’s trial before Susquehanna County Court of Common Pleas President Judge Kenneth Seamans.
She was unhappy with the summary convictions she received last winter from Magisterial District Judge Peter Janicelli.
In December of 2009, animal control officers seized 26 animals (22 dogs and 4 birds) from Knapp and charged her with 78 counts of animal cruelty of which she was found guilty in January.
Prior testimony in Knapp’s appeal was offered in May.
On Monday, Dr. Kimberly Russell, a veterinarian for the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, who took the stand for the prosecution said, “It was one of the worst cases I’ve seen out of the hundreds of animal cruelty cases I’ve seen.”
Russell noted, “Every single animal was suffering from some form of neglect.”
The veterinarian described some of the dogs as arriving at the Philadelphia shelter in an emaciated state and suffering from dehydration, ear infections and upper respiratory infections.
Knapp’s attorney, Robert Hollister questioned Russell about the various vet services and treatments provided to the animals.
In court testimony, Officer Annette Hoffman described animals in poor physical conditions, with fur matted with feces and mud; overturned, dirty water and food bowls; and sub-standard housing.
Since the Dec. 2, 2009, seizure of the animals, two dogs have died. One, named “Saturday” by PSPCA officers, died in January and another dog, referred to as “Monday,” was euthanized in July, according to court testimony.
Hoffman said the PSPCA had received a complaint in November 2009 of sick-looking dogs with improper shelter at the Knapp residence.
The officer said that upon arriving at the house, she could see several large dogs, described as shepherds, and at least one small dog.
Hoffman testified that she could see “every rib” and protruding hip bones on the dog housed closest to the driveway.
“The dog appeared to have caked on mud and feces on it,” Hoffman offered.
Knapp denied the officer access to the property to investigate and Hoffman obtained a search warrant based on the condition of the dog she had seen.
Of the dogs eventually removed from the Knapp residence, Hoffman said about half were shepherd or shepherd-mix canines; the other half were small dogs, including a Pomeranian, Yorkie and some terrier-mixes.
Knapp had refused to surrender the animals, Hoffman said.
Attorney Elizabeth Anderson was also called to testify by the prosecution. Anderson said she works as a PSPCA consultant and she testified that as of Monday, Knapp owed PSPCA more than $49,000 for the veterinarian care administered and daily boarding of the animals.
PSPCA Officer Greg Jordan also offered testimony in court on Monday. Jordan was present during the seizure and transport of the animals.
The prosecution rested its case late Monday afternoon.
Hollister recalled Russell to the stand as his first witness and questioned the vet about costs of vaccinations and the vet services to the animals.
Russell said she provided the PSPCA clinic manager with a record of services rendered and the manager determined the charges.
The case is scheduled to resume on Thursday, Aug. 26 at 1 p.m.