In light of several past kennel raids in PA in which the kennels, namely Limestone and Almost Heaven Kennels, had received satisfactory inspections prior to being raided and having their licenses revoked, there has finally been at least one major change in the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement.

Richard Martrich who was the dog warden supervisor for the southeast region, which included supervising the six wardens in the Philadelphia area, Lehigh and Berks Counties has been transferred. Martrich is now the regional supervisor in the Bureau of Weights and Measures and will have nothing to do with the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement.

Department spokesman Chris Ryder declined to comment on the reasons for the transfer, saying it was a personnel matter.

Martrich, who also declined to comment, had been removed from active duty in July pending an investigation after a raid on a Chester County kennel revealed widespread abuse and poor conditions.

The raid at the Cochranville kennel by the Pennsylvania SPCA found conditions that led to the seizure of 103 dogs, many sick or injured.

Under Martrich’s watch, Limestone Kennel received only clean inspections for the last three years, raising questions about enforcement procedures and prompting calls for a probe into the inspection process.

Martrich also supervised wardens in Lehigh and Berks Counties, the scenes of two incidents in the last two months. In August, a Berks County breeder shot 80 dogs after he was ordered to provide veterinary care for flea bites.

And last week, PSPCA agents conducting a raid at Almost Heaven Kennel in Emmaus, Lehigh County, found more than 800 animals in squalid conditions.

Both kennels have received satisfactory inspections for years. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Another dog warden, Maureen Siddons, who inspector Chester County and had been removed from duty of inspecting kennels during the investigation has been returned to active duty.

Martrich is not the first but the third Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement employee who has come under fire and been removed from their position in the past two years. Former bureau director Mary Bender and deputy director Rick Burd were moved to different offices in the Department of Agriculture after animal welfare advocates complained that they were ineffective.

A forth employee, Lancaster County dog warden Dick Hess, who has also come under criticism is still with the Bureau but no longer does inspections.

Personally I think they should all have been fired but it’s tough to get rid of someone when they have a nice cushy state job. At least they no longer can continue to interfere and corrupt the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement by screwing with inspections.

Hopefully these changes will show other dog wardens that such behavior will not be tolerated and changes can actually happen.

Now that HB 2525 has passed, although it is not quite what it started out to be, maybe some real improvements can take place. It’s going to take some time time, under HB 2525, kennels have a year to make changes but there will be changes. Maybe not as much as they could have been, surely not as much as there should be, but sometimes you have to be content with some improvement over none at all.

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