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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Kennel Owners Killed 80 Dogs Instead of Taking Them to the Vet.

HARRISBURG - Two Berks County kennel operators killed nearly their entire kennel population - 80 dogs - after wardens ordered veterinary exams on dozens of their animals.

After receiving a poor inspection report on July 24, Elmer Zimmerman of Kutztown shot his 70 small-breed dogs and threw them onto a compost pile on his property, according to officials with the state Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. His brother, Ammon Zimmerman, who operated A & J Kennel next door, shot 10 dogs about the same time, they said.

It is legal for dog owners in the state to put a dog down by shooting it. Gov. Rendell, as part of his effort to improve kennel conditions, is seeking legislation to allow only veterinarians to euthanize commercial kennel dogs.

Elmer Zimmerman, owner of E & A Kennel, said in an interview yesterday that he feared the Department of Agriculture was trying to close him down and that he destroyed the dogs on his veterinarian's recommendation.

"They were old, and we were hearing that they don't want kennels anymore," said Zimmerman, who has held a commercial kennel license since at least 2003. "The best thing to do was get rid of them."

Ammon Zimmerman, reached yesterday by phone, told a reporter his decision to destroy his dogs was "none of your business."

Aguirre, who had cited Zimmerman for multiple dog-law violations and ordered vet checks on 39 dogs for flea and fly bites, told him he didn't believe he had shot the dogs. Zimmerman then got out the backhoe and uncovered the bodies of dogs - among them poodles, shih tzus and cocker spaniels - that had been thrown onto the compost pile, she said.

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