Stephen R. Hart, 33, of the 1800 block of Harvey Straughn Road in the Blodgetts Corner area near Blackbird State Forest south of Townsend will face trial on 16 counts of animal cruelty, on for each of the 16 dogs seized from his home.

The 15 pit bulls and one Labrador retriever that were removed were in severe condition of neglect aid John E. Caldwell, executive director of the Delaware SPCA, but all are expected to survive.

Caldwell described the dogs as just ‘skin and bones’ but Hart said he he intentionally kept his dogs lean to avoid their getting overweight in winter. Somehow ‘skin and bones’ goes so far beyond any description of lean that I have even heard as so be unbelievable!

All of the seized dogs — estimated to be 1 to 7 years old — were emaciated, dehydrated and suffering from parasites, according to the complaint warrant sworn by Delaware SPCA Animal Control Officer John Saville.Six were found to have both hookworms and whipworms, 10 had hookworms and one had whipworms, the court papers say, and two have heartworm.

One of the dog had bleeding wounds, another had pressure sores and a third was suffering from open sores and hair loss, the court papers said.

“This is serious cruelty,” Caldwell said, adding that Hart used the unsterilized, adult dogs as breeding stock.

All were given emergency veterinary attention and treated for their parasites, Caldwell said.

In addition to possible fines and animal-ownership restrictions, Caldwell said, state law requires Hart to pay for their veterinary costs as well as their housing at the agency’s Stanton shelter.

While Caldwell said he believes all of them could be considered adoptable, he said, “we can’t do anything until it’s resolved in court.”

Their boarding cost through the trial date is set by Delaware SPCA policy at $20 for the first day, $5 for each subsequent day for each dog — a total of $10,480.

Initial veterinary examinations are billed at $30 each, according to SPCA policy, or another $480, Caldwell said, adding, “I don’t know what the medications will come to.”

Hart retains ownership of the dogs, he said, but “the way the law is, at the end of each month, we invoice them [care and boarding costs, and if they don’t pay, we take possession of the animals.” (The Daily Times)

Now this is a way to charge neglectful and abusive owners for the care of their poor animals. All states should adopt this as a law that would force owners to be responsible for the care of their animals. Sadly, far too often, this is the only penalty that seems to actually make an impression on people, the ole axiom of ‘hit’em where it hurts, in their wallets.’ Personally I still think a large majority of these vile abusers should be forced to face the as a penalty, the same conditions their dogs did.

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