Woman guilty of 22 counts of animal cruelty
Jeanne Knapp, 53, of Thompson, appealed 78 animal cruelty summary convictions she received last winter by District Judge Peter Janicelli to the Court of Common Pleas.
Knapp was represented in court by attorney Robert Hollister, and President Judge Kenneth Seamans issued his ruling.
Knapp was convicted of one animal cruelty count for each of the 22 dogs seized from her home.
She was found not guilty on 12 counts and 44 counts were dismissed by the judge.
In December 2009, animal control officers seized 22 dogs and four birds from Knapp’s Main St. residence.
Since the animals were seized, two of the dogs have died.
The judge ordered the surviving dogs be returned to Knapp’s daughter, Teresa (Knapp) Sherman, of Afton, N.Y.
The move to return the dogs disappointed some of the people in the courtroom who were hoping to adopt the dogs. They have been fostering the animals in their homes and wish not to be identified.
The prosecution had been presented testimony in May and again on Monday before yesterday’s witnesses appeared for the defense.
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.”
Sherman took the stand Thursday and produced American Kennel Club registration papers for two of the dogs that were at her mother’s house when the dogs were seized. One of Sherman’s dogs died in July.
Along with Sherman, Knapp’s son William and her sister Jodi Albanese took the stand for the defense.
Sherman said Knapp “loved (the dogs) almost like her children.”
The three witnesses all testified that Knapp had been depressed after a break-up with a boyfriend in the fall of last year before the animals were seized.
Upon cross examination by assistant District Attorney Marion O’Malley, Albanese said she was “shocked and appalled” by some of the pictures and the condition of the animals.
Knapp must also pay over $46,645 in restitution to the Pennsylvania SPCA; and was fined an additional $50 per conviction.