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Brothers plead guilty in massive dog hoarding case

Two brothers accused in one of the worst cases of animal hoarding in Pennsylvania history have pleaded guilty to animal cruelty less than a month after 185 Chihuahuas were seized from their home.

An update on the one of the worst animal hoarding cases in Pennsylvania history involving almost 200 dogs found last month in a Columbia County house.

Thomas and Albert Ambrosia of Benton pleaded guilty earlier this week to two counts each of cruelty and a dog law violation in connection with the discovery of 187 dogs in their house, according court records.

Thomas Ambrosia, 59, said it was difficult for them to enter a plea since they "treated the dogs like our boys and girls." But he told the Press Enterprise of Bloomsburg that they wanted "to get this behind us."

Veterinarians who checked the Chihuahuas — plus two other dogs that were also removed from the residence — found no serious health issues, only minor eye, teeth and skin problems, and officials say they apparently came from a loving home.

Acting on multiple tips, state dog wardens and state troopers executed a search warrant last month. They found the corpses of 30 Chihuahuas in a freezer, but the dogs apparently died of natural causes.

State law requires anyone who keeps, transfers or boards more than 25 dogs to obtain a kennel license and be inspected annually. Dogs also are required to have dog licenses and rabies vaccinations.

Ambrosia said they applied multiple times for a kennel permit, but had been denied. He said he and his 54-year-old brother still have 10 older dogs.

The brothers were fined more than $500 as part of their guilty pleas. One cruelty count involved neglect of a male coonhound with an open sore on its leg, and the other involved a long-haired Chihuahua with large mats in its hair.

At least one dozen shelters across the eastern half of Pennsylvania stepped in to help place the dogs. Like most small dogs, the chihuahuas were quickly adopted. We hope that no dogs were put down to make room for the dogs and that none were turned away as a result.