Judge Bars Humane Society from Killing, Adopting out animals taken from Cumberland County woman’s farm
A Cumberland County judge issued an emergency order Friday, blocking the Humane Society of Harrisburg Area from euthanizing or adopting out dozens of animals it removed from a Carlisle-area woman’s farm in late January.
Judge Skip Ebert also gave the society until March 18 to answer a petition Sondra McCoy filed, claiming the nonprofit and North Middleton Township police had no business raiding her Hoy Road farm in the first place.
Humane Society officials and police claimed they removed more than 40 animals, including two monkeys, an albino groundhog, a skunk and numerous dogs and cats, Jan. 31 from McCoy’s farm, because they were being kept in “deplorable” and unsanitary conditions. Township police have filed 10 cruelty to animals citations against McCoy with District Judge Paul M. Fegley.
In a petition for an injunction that she filed in county court against the society and the police on Thursday, McCoy repeated arguments she made earlier to PennLive that her animals were legally acquired and well-tended and that society officials and police used coercive and unjustified tactics during the raid.
She said she had brought the animals inside only temporarily due to a brutal cold snap.
McCoy also contended that a Humane Society officer bullied her and apparently got her to sign over ownership of her animals, while she was sedated and undergoing medical treatment in an ambulance.
“She’s obviously very happy and relieved that the animals are not going to be put down or given away before she has a chance to have her day in court,” McCoy’s attorney, Roger Laguna, said of Ebert’s ruling. “That’s all we were asking for.”
He said Humane Society officials rebuffed repeated attempts by McCoy to get information about the animals.
“If the Humane Society had returned our calls, we wouldn’t have had to file for an injunction in the first place,” Laguna said.
Society Executive Director Amy Kaunas couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Friday on Ebert’s ruling.
Kaunas previously told PennLive that her agency’s actions during the Jan. 31 raid were appropriate. She said its goal was to find new homes for the dogs and cats taken from McCoy. The two monkeys are at a primate reserve in Texas. Kaunas said the groundhog and skunk were sent to a wildlife preserve in Pennsylvania.
Also, Kaunas insisted that McCoy voluntarily had surrendered the animals to the society, an assertion that McCoy is adamantly contesting in court filings.
In her petition to the court, McCoy claims her animals were normally kept in modern, heated, custom-built facilities at her farm, which is also home to 20 horses, some valued at up to $40,000. None of McCoy’s horses were taken.
McCoy contends that, although she was ill at the time, she brought the animals targeted by the society into her garage and home temporarily because of the frigid weather. She claims she was following a society directive to ensure they were properly sheltered during the cold snap.
Many of the animals taken during the raid were older, infirm creatures that McCoy feared would be euthanized if she didn’t take them in, according to her petition. McCoy claims she spent thousands of dollars on medical treatment for the “rescued” creatures.
“Some people came to her with 15- and 17-year-old animals,” Laguna said.
McCoy claims in the petition that she has “caused a $100 donation” to be paid to the society to provide food for the animals and is prepared to deposit another $5,000 into escrow to cover their upkeep and veterinary costs.
In granting the emergency injunction, Ebert ordered the society to allow McCoy’s veterinarian to examine the animals in its possession and provide any medical care he deems necessary at McCoy’s expense.
McCoy’s vet, Curtis M. Barnett, is one of several people who provided affidavits for McCoy’s petition.
Barnett wrote that on visits to her property, he found McCoy’s animals to be properly tended. He said he considers McCoy to be a “compassionate and caring pet owner, and when necessary she utilized quality care for her pets without hesitation.”
Several witnesses to the raid, including McCoy’s son, also provided affidavits attesting to what they claimed was unwarranted harassment of McCoy and/or rough treatment of the animals as they were being removed from the property.