Breeder regrets dog sale to Biden
Published: Thursday, April 9, 2009
By GRETCHEN METZ, Staff Writer
EAST COVENTRY It was a proud moment for Linda Brown when then-Vice President-elect Joe Biden selected her kennel to purchase his new German shepherd puppy.
That was in mid-December.
For Brown, that proud moment was short-lived.
After the story about the puppy sale ran in the newspapers and on TV newscasts, three dog wardens from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture showed up on Brown's doorstep for a kennel inspection.
And they showed up again and again for four visits over four months.
She said she has also received death threats from animal activists against her and Biden, which were reported to the Secret Service and the FBI.
Bob Slama, special agent in charge of the Secret Service's Philadelphia field office, said the agency "cannot comment on an ongoing investigation."
J.J. Klaver, special agent at the Philadelphia field office of the FBI, said his agency is not investigating the matter at this time.
"I thought when Joe Biden bought a puppy from me, what an honor," Brown said. "Out of millions of breeders in the country, in the world, he picked me."
The glow dimmed almost immediately.
Following a story about Brown and Biden in the Daily Local News, readers posted 131 comments, some chiding Biden for having the Secret Service with him when he went puppy shopping and others complaining he did not get the dog from a shelter.
Brown was taken to task for selling pedigree dogs.
Brown said she has read the comments, even the one that said she was sued.
"I'd like to meet that person," Brown said, adding that she has not been sued.
Some people were outraged about the photograph of Biden holding a 5-week-old puppy, Brown said. But, the breeder points out, Biden only came to select a puppy on that visit, left it with its mother and returned three weeks later to take it home.
Brown was not only vilified in posted comments to newspapers but also on the Web site of People for the Ethical Treatment Animals, or PETA.
According to a Dec. 12 press release from the animal rights group, it aired its controversial TV commercials "Buy One, Get One Killed" in Biden's home state of Delaware after he bought his dog from Brown. The commercial blames euthanization of animals in shelters on people who purchase pets from breeders.
Brown also was cited for record-keeping problems and warned about maintenance and sanitation shortfalls by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
"I was cited for a piece of kibble on the floor and five strands of dog hair. They took a picture of that, they walked around, snapped pictures and don't tell you why," said Brown, who disputes all the items where she was written up.
Brown's case was heard by District Justice James DeAngelo in South Coventry on March 31. She was found "not guilty" for each citation, the judge's office confirmed Wednesday.
Chris Ryder, press secretary for the Department of Agriculture, said Brown was inspected in December because of a complaint. He said it was department policy not to release the name of the person who complained.
Brown's kennel, Wolf Den, was inspected twice a year by the agency and routinely had satisfactory reports until December 2008 when it had seven unsatisfactory inspection results out of 26, according to the inspection records on the agency's Web site.
Ryder said the inspectors returned as a matter of follow-up to determine if the unsatisfactory matters had been taken care of. He said more than one inspector was brought in because Brown runs a large kennel.
Before going to court, Brown had to hire a lawyer. So far her legal fees are $4,000, she said.
"Never, never, never again," Brown said about selling a dog to anyone with a high profile.
Brown said she gets her breeding stock from Germany. Each dog costs between $5,000 and $10,000.
"If I paid that much for them, don't you think I'd treat them pretty good?" Brown asks.
While the First Family was shopping for a Portuguese water dog, Brown said those breeders were getting in touch with her to find out what her experience had been like.
Brown has a few words for them.
"It's been horrific since December," she said.