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Thursday, February 29, 2024
Courthouse News Service
Thursday, February 29, 2024 | Back issues
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Fleas Aren’t Illegal, Amish Farmer Tells SPCA

PHILADELPHIA (CN) - An Amish dairy farmer claims the Pennsylvania SPCA seized his family's pets after "undercover" SPCA operatives turned up evidence that his dogs had "overgrown nails and fleas." Amos Kauffman claims the SPCA's request for "Draconian" punishment could cost him his family farm.

Kauffman sued the Pennsylvania SPCA and its undercover operatives in Federal Court, alleging conversion of his animals and constitutional violations.

Kauffman says SPCA agent Ashley Mutch "went 'undercover' to the Kauffman farm and observed five puppies living in a pen that, incredibly, smelled of urine and feces."

Kauffman says Mutch claimed to have received a complaint that Kaufmann had sold a sick puppy.

Kauffman says Mutch bought four of the puppies. He claims that after an SPCA vet found them to have parasites and anemia, Mutch and her "sidekick" came back to the farm armed with weapons and a search warrant.

Mutch and co-defendant Kristen Sullivan proceeded to seize all of his family's pets and farm animals, and charged him with 10 counts of animal cruelty, including counts of "overgrown nails and fleas," and "unclean pens," Kauffman says.

"Three of the Kauffman's school-aged girls cried as defendants ransacked their father's desk searching for documents," he says in the complaint.

The farmer says Mutch and Sullivan also seized his daughters' dogs, who "wait in the driveway for the girls to come home from school."

Kauffman says Mutch sought $7,500 in fines, forfeiture of his animals and wanted his prohibited from owning animals for 90 days.

"This outrageous and Draconian penalty would have put Mr. Kauffman out of business with his dairy," according to his complaint.

Kauffman says the charges against him were dropped, but the SPCA refuses to return his animals and have threatened him with fines in an effort to get him to "sign the animals over" to the SPCA.

Kauffman, a member of the Amish Church, who runs a dairy farm and greenhouse, says he has pet dogs and cats on the farm and often sells their puppies to members of the community. He says he does not have enough dogs on to constitute a kennel.

He seeks compensatory and punitive damages from the Pennsylvania SPCA, Mutch and Sullivan for Fourth Amendment violations, conversion and inadequate training.

He is represented by Leonard Brown III with Clymer, Musser, Brown & Conrad of Lancaster, Pa.

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