The owner of the Chester County kennel that sold Vice President Biden his dog, Champ, received her third not-guilty verdict for dog-law violations Monday in District Court.
Linda Brown, who runs JoLindy's German Shepherds - also known as Wolf Den Kennel - with her husband, Joseph Gauger, appeared before Bucktown District Judge James V. DeAngelo.
"I can't get beyond reasonable doubt," DeAngelo said regarding allegations that the food and sanitation of the couple's Spring City kennel ran afoul of the law.
Jeff Conrad, Brown's attorney, said after the hour-long hearing that state regulators have unfairly targeted Brown. She was found not guilty of citations issued in January and March 2009.
"Ever since the vice president got his dog, she has been under a magnifying glass," said Conrad. "The scrutiny she has been under is ridiculous."
State dog-law officials dismissed that suggestion, pointing out that Brown's problems predated Biden's purchase in December 2008.
Sue West, director of the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement, said the state was waiting for the conclusion of Monday's hearing before deciding what other action to take against JoLindy's regarding inspections performed in March and May.
According to those reports, wardens found "sharp metal, chewed wood and sharp chewed edgings" in and around the facility that could injure dogs, inadequate water supplies, and "several dead, decomposing rats" on the grounds.
During the hearing, David McKenzie, the assistant counsel for the bureau, presented testimony and photos from Joe Loughlin, the dog warden.
Loughlin said he observed that the raw chicken fed to the dogs "was mixed in with dog feces" and that one dog had blood running down its mouth that got in its water bowl.
Gauger testified that the concrete area where he throws the dogs' food is pressure-washed daily, a comment that prompted Conrad to argue that unless Loughlin visited the kennel the day before or the day after the Nov. 4 inspection, he could not prove a violation occurred.
That assertion and others prompted both lawyers and the judge to search for the relevant regulations, a task that proved challenging, since one section referred readers to another section. At one point, the judge asked McKenzie if he wanted a sticky-note to facilitate flipping from one section to another.
Brown testified that she and her husband were doing their best to comply with the dog regulations that went into effect in October 2009.
"Everything you do isn't good enough," she said.
As for the blood that the warden noted, it came from "the big bucket" of raw hamburger she gave one of the younger males "to beef him up for breeding," Brown said, adding that she didn't realize it got into his drinking water.
According to minutes from the American Kennel Club's April 2006 meeting, the AKC's management disciplinary committee suspended Brown from all AKC privileges for one year, effective April 10, 2006, and imposed a $1,000 fine for having submitted or caused to be submitted three litter registration applications that she knew, should have known, or had a duty to know contained false certifications as to the sire and/or dam.
Jessie L. Smith, Pennsylvania's deputy secretary for dog law enforcement, said the state's new law adds civil and administrative options to the bureau's criminal enforcement actions. She said she did not yet know how the bureau would proceed but said some action would be taken.
"Her conditions are not good," Smith said.
After the judge's decision, Brown hugged her attorney.
"There is no one in the world who loves their dogs more than I do," Brown said later. "I hire people to do the cleaning so I can do the kissing."