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October 28, 2011

Animal Welfare Groups Demand That Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Re-evaluate Kennel Licensing Protocol

New license allows wife of convicted animal abuser to operate breeding facility at their home.

A coalition of animal welfare organizations has sent a letter to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture urging the department to re-evaluate their  decision to grant Nancy Zimmerman, the wife of convicted animal abuser John Zimmerman, a Pa. kennel license. The letter also urges the department to review current policies regarding licensure of dog breeders in the state.

John Zimmerman, husband of Nancy Zimmerman, was convicted of animal cruelty in Lancaster County in 2010 based on the mistreatment of animals at the Silver Hill Kennel, which is located at their joint residence.  His kennel license for Silver Hill Kennel was subsequently revoked by the state. 

Federal and state inspection reports show that Zimmerman racked up numerous violations including; improper sanitation, inadequately sized enclosures, and a lack of proper exercise and veterinary care for his dogs. Federal and state inspection documents show that during the years 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2008, Nancy Zimmerman’s name appeared along with John Zimmerman’s name on USDA license lists and some USDA inspection reports for Silver Hill Kennel. She is listed as a breeder on the paperwork of several dogs sold by Silver Hill Kennel in recent years, and even sent a letter to the Pennsylvania legislature signed on behalf of “Silver Hill Kennel.”

Though the state revoked Mr. Zimmerman’s license, it recently granted his wife a license to operate a dog breeding kennel, now called Golden Acres Kennel, on the same property. This new K4 license allows Mrs. Zimmerman to keep up to 250 dogs on the property.  Further, this type of license specifically exempts Zimmerman from complying with many of the strongest rules required for commercial breeders under Pennsylvania’s Dog Law.

“When the legislature overhauled the Dog Law in 2008, the intent of the law was to prevent operators who have had their licenses revoked from continuing to operate by simply changing the name of the business and putting it in another family member’s name,” says Sarah Speed, Pennsylvania state director for The Humane Society of the United States.  “If the department doesn’t remedy this situation on its own, we may need to consider legal action to force the department to carry out its duty  to responsibly regulate commercial dog-breeding facilities.”

 

Media Contact: Jordan Crump: 301-548-7793, jcrump@humanesociety.org

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