The Pennsylvania SPCA removed five elderly dogs in poor health from a nationally-known Berks County sporting dog breeder who could face animal cruelty charges.
Responding to a tip, the PSPCA obtained a search warrant to enter the state-licensed kennel in Mohrsville Thursday night where they found 60 dogs.
PSPCA forensic veterinarians on the scene evaluated the animals and determined that five dogs required further evaluation and treatment for health conditions, the organization said in a press release.
“Those were the dogs we removed in order to save them,” said Sarah Eremus, a spokeswoman for the Philadelphia-based PSPCA, which has recently expanded its law enforcement to Berks County.
She said the group had to euthanize one of the dogs because of serious health issues.
The PSPCA did not identify the breeder pending charges, but a source close to the investigation confirmed it is Paul Ober, owner of Celtic Farms and Kennel in Mohrsville.
Ober, a Reading attorney who breeds Irish Setters for field hunting, has been cited repeatedly for dog law violations over the past five years.
On Monday Ober said in a brief interview that he voluntarily gave the dogs to the PSPCA and was not aware they had to euthanize one of them.
In the past, state wardens have cited Ober for keeping dogs in drum barrels, housing them in flooded pens and in outside enclosures without adequate access to shelter. They also found kennels and outdoor pen enclosures contained sharp, rusted metal edges, protruding nails and exposed electrical outlets.
In addition, inspection reports show other violations, including unkempt kennels, dirty bedding and feeders that contained mildew, mold and dirt. In one instance a warden found a puppy tied by a short tether to a fence.
In 2011 the Dog Law Enforcement Office revoked Ober’s license, citing the repeated violations.
In his appeal, Ober denied virtually all of the violations, saying the pens with the barrels were exercise areas, not permanent housing and that he kept no dogs in the flooded pens. He said tethering the young dog was a training technique. He also argued that he was found not guilty of the charges by a Berks County judge.
Ober rebuilt his kennel and received a new license in 2012.
At his last state inspection in Dec. 2013, veterinary exams were ordered on an unspecified number of dogs. The state inspection form indicates that Ober followed through on the exams as required.
Ober objected to efforts by the legislature to toughen the state dog law to address conditions in commercial breeding kennels.
In 2007 he wrote to the Independent Regulatory Review Board urging them to reject the legislation, saying there was no “scientific, veterinary or other justification for these proposed changes.”
In 2009 Ober wrote to the board again, this time over proposed canine health regulations that set higher standards for commercial breeders. He said he objected to the costs to upgrade his kennel.
Ober's website advertises that he raises AKC champion Irish Red Setters sold worldwide and that the kennel is “certified” by the Vermont-based fishing and hunting outfitter, Orvis.
Scott McEnaney, manager of endorsed services and schools, said the company would look into the matter.
"It's very concerning," he said.
McEnaney said he had not been to the kennel since Orvis added it to its small list of certified breeders about eight years ago, but that a retired dog trainer working for the company had inspected the facility in 2012. There are only 13 Orvis-endorsed sporting dog breeders nationwide.