Notice that the SPCA cited him- not a PA Department of Agriculture Dog Law Warden
BY FRANK ANDRUSCAVAGE
Published: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 4:20 AM EDT
FRACKVILLE A 45-year-old Girardville man was found guilty of a charge of cruelty to animals Tuesday afternoon in district court despite testimony by a state dog warden who said he gave permission to use a trailer seven beagles were kept in.
After more than two hours of testimony, Magisterial District Judge Bernadette J. Nahas found John Yagielinskie, 125 W. Ogden St., guilty and ordered him to pay a fine of $300 plus costs of $134 for a total of $434.
Yagielinskie's lawyer, Mark A. Barket, Pottsville, said his client will appeal the decision in Schuylkill County Court.
Yagielinskie was cited June 10 by Barbara A. Umlauf of Hillside SPCA in Pottsville, who charged him with having seven dogs in an unattended trailer on a Girardville street. Umlauf cited improper shelter, no water, filthy conditions, heat exhaustion, overcrowding and open wounds due to fighting as the basis of the charge.
Umlauf said the trailer the animals were housed in had four compartments and that three dogs were in one, two dogs each in two others and one was empty. The trailer, she said, should not have been used as kennel.
However, Francis J. Cremia, a dog warden with the state Department of Agriculture, said the he saw the custom-built trailer shortly after a June 3 fire at Yagielinskie's kennel in Pitman and gave permission to use it to house his animals.
Cremia said the trailer Yagielinskie was using under state law could be considered both a "primary conveyance" for transporting animals and a "primary enclosure" to be used as a kennel.
When asked by Umlauf if the animals were overcrowded, being three and two dogs in each section, Cremia said they were not.
"Two would be fine but three would be stretching it," he said. "There'd probably be enough room for three."
Cremia said he could not say for certain if any dog laws were broken because the animals would have had to be measured before the amount of space required for each was determined.
Under cross-examination by Barket, Cremia said he saw the trailer two days after the fire and although he gave permission to use it, he was "not thrilled" about taking it to Girardville simply because he feared that barking would be a problem.
Yagielinskie told the court that the day Umlauf and another SPCA worker came to Girardville, the trailer was unattended because he and professional dog trainer Paul E. Thompson, Kentucky, were using the truck to pick up new kennels.
Cremia confirmed that Yagielinskie purchased new kennels and placed the animals in them on the property of his friend, Nevin Maurer, Pitman.
Yagielinskie said that he lost 24 beagles in the fire and that 11 survived. He said the 11 that did survive were with him because nine of them needed constant treatment for burns and other wounds they suffered.
Yagielinskie said the animals received water that morning and that there was no heat exhaustion because the trailer the dogs were in is equipped with battery-operated fans that turn on if the temperature reaches 75 degrees inside.
Veterinarian Amy Swinehart said she examined nine of the animals on June 12 and determined all were healthy.
After the hearing, Yagielinskie said he was upset with the decision.
"Those dogs are all I have left after 30 years," he said. "Some I've owned up to seven generations behind them, their grandfathers and great-grandfathers."