Animal welfare officials are investigating the discovery of an as yet unreported number of dead dogs in a back yard in Kensington.

Pennsylvania SPCA humane law enforcement officers are executing a search warrant at the property in the 18000 block of East Cornwall Street, the agency said. It said officers found "several" dead pit bull type dogs in the yard along with a number of dead puppies stuffed in a bag.

At least one live dog was found in the yard, the SPCA said, adding investigators were looking into a possible link to dog fighting.

In other animal crime, courts and legislative news...

Pennsylvania state Sen. Andy Dinniman's bill (SB 968) to add pets to restraining orders in domestic violence cases passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday on an 8-3 vote. Similar bills have become law in a number of other states. According to American Humane, 71% of pet-owning women entering women's shelters reported that their batterer had injured, maimed, killed or threatened family pets for revenge or to psychologically control victims. Sen. John Rafferty (R., Montgomery) said the bill will help protect pets and people. "Pets are often used to get over on a spouse in a domestic situation," he said.

A long time coming... another Dinniman bill, "Daniel's Law," (Senate Bill 1329) that would end the gassing of pets in shelters is scheduled for vote before the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, Dec. 14. A similar bill languished in the same Senate committee last session. At least three shelters in western Pennsylvania still use gas chambers to destroy unwanted cats and dogs. For more on gas chambers visit the Animal Law Coalition website.

The Humane Society of the United States has filed suit against the largest Internet seller of puppies. The HSUS brought its suit against Purebred Breeders of Florida after a whistleblower contacted the group and it began looking into customer complaints. The customers (several of whom are featured in the NBC video below) bought sick and dying puppies that many thought were being bred by reputable breeders in their home states. It turned out they were being shipped in from out-of-state puppy mills. The dogs - which sold for thousands - were in from all over the country and arrived covered in feces and urine, many sick with giardia, parvovirus, and upper respiratory infections including pneumonia.

The lawsuit alleges that Purebred Breeders uses deceptive advertising to dupe unsuspecting consumers into purchasing dogs from inhumane commercial breeding facilities known as puppy mills.

A Pennsylvania man has been charged with animal cruelty in connection with the 21 horses - mares and foals - found starving in a Pennsylvania field near Gettysburg. James Houseman III of Littlestown has been charged with 22 counts of animal cruelty. One dead horse was found in a field and two foals died shortly after the horses were seized on Nov. 16. Necropsies showed the foals starved to death. A third weanling in the care of the Adams County SPCA died Tuesday night.  Houseman has another 34 horses in Maryland that are being monitored by authorities, according to the Frederick News Post. Fourteen of the horses belong to a Florida racehorse breeder who is suing Houseman and wants his horses back.

The New Jersey SPCA has busted what it says is a fraudulent "rescue" operation that sold sick puppies to unsuspecting consumers. Charged with five counts of animal cruelty is Christine Yurgel, owner of Pound Puppy Protection Rescue of New Jersey.

The "rescue group" sold several sick puppies to families at the Petsmart located on Route 1 in North Brunswick on or around Oct. 31. The NJSPCA police received 3 separate complaints from families that had their vets confirm the pups tested positive for Parvo. Two of the puppies died from the Parvo and a third recovered after extensive treatment. Canine parvovirus type 2 (CPV2, colloquially parvo) is a contagious disease that is spread dog to dog by direct or indirect contact with their feces. It can be especially severe in puppies that are not protected by maternal antibodies or vaccination.

Yurgel faces potential jail time and fines of $5,000. Her first appearance in North Brunswick Municipal Court is scheduled on Dec. 21. Her "rescue group" received a $350 adoption fee for each of six dogs adopted. The NJSPCA wants to contact at least three additional families who may have adopted sick puppies that day. The rescue group's records had no information about the sales so the location of any other sick puppies is unknown.

The NJSPCA urges members of the public to call its hotline at 800-582-5979 with any information and leave a message for Officer Fraler.