Together Isaac Stoltzfus and Tom Stevenson played major roles in the puppy mill wars waged in Pennsylvania over the past two decades.
Stoltzfus, as a district judge in the heart of Lancaster County's commercial kennel industry, and Stevenson, of Chester County, as a veterinarian responsible for the health of tens of thousands of dogs in the largest kennels.
Today Stoltzfus is fighting to save his job - and his reputation - after being slapped by the state Judicial Conduct Board following revelations that he distributed acorn-filled condoms on the Capitol grounds.
Stevenson, who is still on probation after being convicted of animal cruelty in 2009, announced to his clients last month that he was closing his vet clinic - Twin Valley in Honey Brook, on June 3 and "moving west."
Stevenson had resumed practicing veterinary medicine late last year after the state Veterinary Medical Board lifted his suspension following his conviction on cruelty charges for chopping off a puppy's tail with no anesthesia while holding it under scalding water. The incident occurred at Country Lane kennel in New Providence, owned by Sam King whose license was later revoked by the state.
Stevenson, who signed off on thousands of health certificates for Pennsylvania-bred puppies being sold in pet shops throughout the region, was named in a New Jersey consumer fraud suit that alleged he conspired with kennel operator Joyce Stoltzfus (Puppy Love/CC Pets) to sell sick puppies. That case was settled out of court for an unknown amount.
What is known is how much Stevenson owed the IRS when they sought to foreclose on his Elverson house last year: $502,000. When asked last week, a U.S. Justice Department spokesman would not say whether the debt had been paid, citing taxpayer confidentiality.
In his letter to clients Stevenson said he was going west to be closer to his children and to practice homeopathic medicine as QuantumVets, but would be returning to Pennsylvania once a month to do house calls.
He may well going to Idaho because that's where his son Joshua, named in the IRS lawsuit against Stevenson, lived when the suit was filed last year.
Meanwhile, Stoltzfus, long accused by animal welfare advocates of letting abusive kennel owners off easily, is facing trial and could lose his $83,000 job for handing out the condoms at the Capitol last fall. The Lancaster Intelligencer Journaldoes a nice job of summing up the bizarre details of this case, among them that Stoltzfus said he regularly gave the condom-filled acorns to individuals who appeared before him in court, in Intercourse mind you, to raise awareness about unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.
Among the kennel operators who appeared before Stoltzfus and received either light or no penalties were chronic offenders such as Daniel Esh and Ervin Zimmerman - both of whose kennel licenses were eventually revoked.