Accused animal abuser on trial

A Loyalsock Township man was tried in county court on charges of cruelty to animals Thursday.

Keith Chambers, 65, had charges filed against him after the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals took three horses, 10 dogs and a cat off his Bloomingrove Road property on Dec. 2, 2011.

Jan Lechler, SPCA kennel director, testified that the six Yorkshire terriers, two rottweilers and two doberman pinschers “all had ear mites, roundworms and whipworms” when they reached her kennel.

“The Yorkies had very matted hair, with fecal matter in knots,” Lechler said. “We basically had to shave them down.”

The rottweilers and dobermans all had Lyme disease at the time, Lechler said.

Dr. Beth Ewaskiewicz, of Penns Valley Veterinary Clinic, Millheim, testified to the state of the three appaloosa mares, Hope, Faith and Charity, taken from the property.

“My first impression was they were very, very thin,” Ewaskiewicz said. “They had matted hair from sores underneath seeping because of the rain rot. It’s a bacteria that gets in at a scratch and, in more moist conditions, it can proliferate.”

“Hope and Charity were the worst,” she continued. “They had rain rot all the way from the withers, where the neck meets the body, all the way to the tail. I’ve never seen a horse with one continuous lesion head to toe.”

The investigation began when the Loyalsock Township codes department contacted the SPCA in May 2011.

“They wanted us to check on an animal and code violation with excess manure,” said Lawrence Woltz, SPCA county officer.

Chambers and his wife, Deann, signed over the animals to the SPCA on Jan. 5, 2012. On that statement, it was noted that Chambers declared “these horses and dogs were her animals and not my responsibility.”

“In order to have duty of care under the statute, do you ask for ownership papers to the property?” defense attorney John Piazza asked Woltz. “Is it just whatever you feel?”

“It doesn’t matter to me who’s claiming ownership if I felt someone had duty of care,” Woltz replied. “There are a lot of issues. (Chambers) had raised dogs in the past and I had seized many dogs. We’ve talked about how to build doghouses, and he’s admitted he spent a lot of money on a rottweiler that was hit by a car.”

Pamela Koch, of Appalachian Horse Help and Rescue, Linden, testified to the conditions she found on the property in December 2011.

“There was no water, no food, and the stalls were covered in feces wetness,” she said. “You had to hit the doors to open the stalls.”

Judge Marc Lovecchio likely will hand down a decision in the non-jury trial today.