Police Still Looking for Dog Owner

One of the nine Great Danes sits on a chair at the Valley Township residence. Animal specialists rescued all nine dogs after obtaining a search warrant for the 204 Yockey Road residence last Sunday.

by David Croyle

Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Thomas J. Ulintz said he is still trying to make contact with a 50-year-old Valley Township woman whose Great Dane dogs were discovered under inhumane conditions last weekend.

Ulintz said he filed charges at District Magisterial Judge Samuel Goldstrohm’s office citing Barbara L. Grey with three misdemeanor counts of Cruelty to Animals stemming from three dead dogs found in the back of a broken-down pickup truck at the residence on Yockey Road. Nine additional summary counts were also filed for nine other dogs discovered in the house in deplorable condition.

“This is not a felony. We are not going to take them into custody and put handcuffs on them at this time. The judge (Goldstrohm) will send out paperwork. If they don’t respond, then a warrant will be issued,” Ulintz said.  

Police were called last Saturday night shortly before midnight because the 911 dispatchers received a call from the residence phone that essentially went “dead” after dispatchers answered it. Ulintz described the events leading up to the discovery of the animals.

“When we arrived at the house, it was Saturday night (March 5). There was a real bad rain storm. We were going up the driveway. Our patrol vehicle actually got stuck. We had to walk the rest of the way. We got up there. We knocked at the door. Nobody was home. All the lights were on and there was a flat screen TV that was turned on as well. When my partner knocked on the door, all the dogs started going crazy. We could see through a blind or a curtain a couple of the dogs. I looked in and noticed some of the dogs were in some bad condition.  Then we walked around the house. That is usual protocol on a hang-up call. We try to make every effort to talk to somebody at the residence. Nobody was home at the residence. Sometimes when there is real bad weather like that, wind or rain, older phone lines for whatever reason when they short out will call 911 directly. That’s what we think happened. Before leaving, I looked back in the window and I noticed some of the dogs seemed to be in bad health. I called the human society when we got back to the station, told her what I saw. She took it from there. She followed up the rest of the way. She rescued the dogs with a vet with her and a Great Dane Society person with them. And they rescued the dogs after getting a search warrant from Judge Goldstrohm.”

Ulintz said that he has attempted to contact Grey, but has not been able to make contact.

“Still to this day I have not talked to the owner of the house. Every time I try to call, there’s no answer. I have made several attempts to go to the house and no one has been there.”    

Humane Officer Penny Dewoehrel described her experience in retrieving the animals.

According to animal rescuers, this dog was chained to the wall. There was a hole in the floor in front of its feed pan. “If the dog slipped, she would have hung herself,” Humane Officer Penny Dewoehrel said.

“The trooper called in 5:30 in the morning saying to me that the dogs in the home were all emaciated and the situation was extremely poor. We left a notice on her door to have her contact myself or the trooper (Ulintz) involved. We did not hear anything. I called the home for three straight days and did not get anyone answering that phone. I went there on March 8. Again, nobody was home. I saw the condition the dogs were in and immediately obtained a search warrant and removed those animals.”

Dewoehrel said when she removed the dogs, the lights were still on in the home and no one was home.

She confirmed that the three dogs found dead in the back of the pickup truck died of starvation.

“One was dead and decayed before winter, one sometime during winter, and one fairly recent.”

Dewoehrel said she also found graves of dogs that had previously died and were buried.

“She still hasn’t responded to any of our calls. She is actually hiding out now. Where she’s at, we don’t know. That will be the trooper’s job to hunt her down.”

Dewoehrel said that although the nine rescued Great Danes are doing better, there are still complications.

“The dogs are in veterinary care. They are doing better. They are actually all eating now. They are actually walking and barking now. So they are feeling a bit better. One is still ‘iffy’. One may lose a leg. It’s touch and go. We will have to wait and see. The vets are doing everything they can.”

Dewoehrel would not disclose the location of the dogs; however, she said she has had tremendous response from the public.

“I have already had 250 calls since eight o’clock this morning (Thursday),” she said. “They are just taking care of the animals. They don’t want the publicity.”