Every month, Main Line Animal Rescue will spotlight a different commercial dog breeding kennel in Pennsylvania. We will link to the kennels’s inspection reports and you can read the reports and decide for yourself if the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (charged with licensing and inspecting these kennels) is doing its job and enforcing the laws in place to protect these animals.

Turkey Hill Kennel in East Earl, Lancaster County, was cited by state inspectors in January 2010, for numerous violations (all later dismissed by a local district magistrate). What’s disturbing about this kennel, aside from the reported frozen solid water buckets, rodent droppings, dogs with dental disease and eye and ear infections, dirty food receptacles, and the dogs’ feet falling through the uncoated wire flooring of their cages (all in violation of PA law), is the fact state inspectors needed respirators to inspect this kennel. The stench inside the kennel was so strong, inspectors had difficulty breathing and the high ammonia levels burned their eyes. There were 364 dogs in the kennel at the time and inspectors (called “dog wardens”) left almost 400 dogs behind that day in conditions that were clearly hazardous to the health of the dogs. They could have taken measures to remove the dogs from these conditions, but did not.

In March (two months later), conditions hadn’t changed and once again inspectors needed respirators in order to proceed with their inspection of Turkey Hill Kennel. Dogs’ feet were still falling through the wire strand floor of their cages, there was a build-up of excreta under and around the enclosures, and the inspectors once again found dogs in need of veterinary care. There were 344 dogs in Turkey Hill Kennel at the time. Again, state inspectors left the dogs behind in an atmosphere in which they themselves had difficulty breathing.

We jump ahead to June. Turkey Hill is once again inspected and cited, ammonia levels inside the kennel are still high, dogs feet are still falling through the flooring of their cages, food receptacles are still dirty, there are still dogs in the kennel in need of veterinary care, there is no fan in one kennel (in case the temperature exceeded 85 degrees), and the inspectors need flashlights to see some of the dogs in the dark, solid box portion of their cages/hutches. And yet state officials there that day stated Turkey Hill Kennel operator Marlin Zimmerman “has made tremendous efforts in the past month” to improve conditions in his kennel. These officials fail to understand their job is to protect the dogs in these facilities, not act as cheerleaders for those individuals operating substandard kennels.

Turkey Hill Kennel also received a waiver from the Department of Agriculture exempting it from key aspects of our new dog law until October 2012 (four years after our new dog law regulating commercial kennels was passed). Waivers were issued based on good faith – obviously, if this kennel is cited for the same things over and over, Mr. Zimmerman is clearly not operating in good faith.

Please contact Mike Pechart and George Grieg at the PA Department of Agriculture and ask them about the dogs at Turkey Hill Kennel.

Read Turkey Hill Kennel inspection reports for 2011: