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NY kennel owner admits gassing 93 dogs with farm engine

A commercial kennel owner in New York destroyed 93 dogs using a hose connected to a farm engine and pumping carbon monoxide into makeshift "gas chamber."

A commercial kennel owner in New York destroyed 93 dogs using a hose connected to a farm engine and pumping carbon monoxide into a makeshift "gas chamber."

David Yoder, owner of Black Diamond Acres kennel in Romulus, told a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector during a July 15 inspection that he killed the dogs to "depopulate" the kennel. (Read the inspection report (.PDF))

Yoder said he created an airtight chamber out of a wood whelping box (where nursing puppies are typically housed with their mothers) by fitting the opening with a metal door with a small hole for an exhaust pipe which was attached to a 3 horsepower farm engine.

Then he gassed "approximately" 78 adult dogs and 15 puppies in groups of five or six. Yoder said he left the barn during the gassing because he had a headache from the fumes. He also said he used a stethoscope to make sure the dogs had stopped breathing before burying them, according to the inspection report.

It is against federal law for a licensed kennel owner to perform their own euthanasia. The inspector, Andrea D'Ambrosio, also noted that dogs not immediately gassed likely suffered from inhaling the excess fumes.

"The manner of mass euthanasia caused potentially high levels of behavioral stress and unnecessary discomfort to all the dogs in the kennel," the report said.

Mary Anne Kowalski, a board member of the Seneca County SPCA, said she was not aware of anyone from the USDA reporting what she believes is a clear case of animal cruelty to local authorities.

The dogs were killed sometime after a June 29 inspection where Yoder had been ordered to get his dogs tested and treated for Brucellosis (after earlier tests indicated some of his dogs had the contagious disease) and before the inspector returned on July 15.

The case bears an eerie resemblance to the 2008 mass shooting at a Berks County, Pa., kennel after the owner was told to treat his dogs for flea infestation. That incident helped propel the passage of the new state dog law and the immediate prohibition of euthanasia by any means other than by a licensed veterinarian.

Romulus, located 60 miles southeast of Rochester in Seneca County, may have been the first municipality in the nation to ban puppy mills when it passed an ordinance last year outlawing commercial kennels.

Seneca County has a sizeable Amish population, and many are involved in dog breeding, Kowalski said. Yoder, who is Amish, bred poodles, Bichons, Maltese and Boston Terriers. He was allowed to continue operating his kennel in Romulus despite the ban because it was grandfathered under the new ordinance.

Kowalski, who discovered the report of the gassing on the USDA website while updating her files today, said she was stunned at what she read. "I just lost it," she said.

Kowalski said she reported the incident to the sheriff and district attorney in the hope that cruelty charges will be brought against Yoder.

"I hope these dogs did not die in vain," she said.