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Wednesday, Aug 15, 2007County: Lancaster
Defendant/Suspect: Samuel Sauder
A Narvon man was found guilty Tuesday of animal cruelty for denying his ailing dogs veterinary care.
Intercourse District Justice Isaac Stoltzfus found Samuel Sauder of 466 Hammertown Road guilty of two counts of animal cruelty. Stoltzfus ordered Sauder to pay $371 in fines and court costs. The judge had the option to have Sauder pay up to $750 for each count and sentence him to prison for up to 90 days for each count.
Humane Society Police Officer Keith Mohler said when he arrived at Sauder's Narvon home in August he found Spotty, a 2-year-old Boston terrier, with inflamed, blood-red eyes bulging an inch out of their sockets.
Sauder, who represented himself at Tuesday's hearing, said Spotty was blind in one eye when he acquired him and he was treating the condition with salve recommended by a friend who owns a kennel.
"(Spotty) was in good spirits and very lively during the day," Sauder testified. " … If I mistreated these dogs at all, it was not intentional."
But veterinarian Heather Lineweaver of Smoketown Veterinary Hospital, where Mohler brought Spotty for treatment, testified that Spotty's eyes were so infected his corneas had eroded and ruptured. The condition would have taken a long time to get to that advanced stage, she said, and Spotty would have suffered pain throughout that time.
Spotty's eyes eventually were removed and his eyelids sutured together. Lineweaver testified Spotty's eyes and eyesight could have been saved had he received timely veterinary care.
Mohler learned about conditions at Sauder's farm from Laurie Yeich and her friend, Nancy Astheimer, who had responded to a newspaper item Sauder placed advertising Boston terrier puppies for sale.
Astheimer bought two of Sauder's Boston terriers for $350. She and Yeich returned on Aug. 15 so Yeich could get a puppy from the same litter. Yeich said one puppy was considerably smaller than the rest, emaciated and barely moving.
"I was only going to buy one puppy, but I felt so bad for the other one that wasn't moving because (the Sauders) weren't going to take it to the vet," Yeich said. "We scraped up another $75, and (Mrs. Sauder) threw in the other puppy."
Yeich named the sickly puppy Sherman and took it to Dr. Corinne Thomas of Atglen Veterinary Hospital for an examination.
Thomas testified that Sherman, at under 2 pounds, was less than half the weight of his brother.
"(Sherman) was so dehydrated when she brought him in we couldn't draw blood at that point," Thomas testified. "If the dog hadn't gotten care at that moment, he probably wouldn't have survived."
Within two days, Sherman had gained half a pound and was able to produce a blood sample. A stool sample showed he was infected with parvo, a highly contagious and often fatal virus. Three of the four dogs purchased by Yeich and Astheimer ended up testing positive for parvo, Yeich said after the hearing.
Sauder testified that his vet said the puppies couldn't have contracted parvo at his farm because the incubation period didn't jibe with the date of diagnosis.
"He said the time was way too far out for (Sherman) to get parvo at my place," Sauder said.
Assistant District Attorney Christine L. Wilson said Spotty has been adopted by a family and is doing well, although she regrets he can no longer see.
"The defendant's actions were egregious in that Spotty's eyesight could have been saved if he had been taken to a veterinarian for treatment instead of (Sauder) smearing salve on the dog's eyes," Wilson said.
Sauder's legal woes multiplied Tuesday. While at Stoltzfus' office, Yeich and Astheimer filed small-claim suits against Sauder to receive restitution under the state's "puppy lemon law" for their veterinary expenses, which have topped $1,700 to date for Astheimer and $441 for Yeich.
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