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Charges added against man who had 50 animals seized from his home

EVANS CITY — A man who had 50 animals seized from his Connoquenessing Township home saw dozens of charges added to the case against him following a preliminary hearing Wednesday, April 17.

Paul J. Frederick, 53, was charged earlier this month after two dead German shepherds belonging to him were found in plastic bags near the parking lot of the General Butler Vagabond Center in Butler Township.

The investigation led to the seizure of 50 animals, including dogs, cats, pigs, goats and ducks, from Frederick’s home on April 6.

Frederick appeared with attorney Michael Pawk before District Judge Amy Marcinkiewicz on Wednesday for a hearing on charges of aggravated cruelty to animals, obstruction of the law and resisting arrest.

Assistant district attorney David Beichner asked that six counts of misdemeanor animal neglect and 55 summary offenses, including animal neglect and failure to license, be added to the case.

Marcinkiewicz approved the amended charges and held them all for Butler County Common Pleas Court following testimony from four witnesses.

Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Huffman testified first, saying he pulled over at the Vagabond Center on April 5 to give Justice, his K-9, a break.

While outside of the vehicle, Huffman said Justice caught a whiff of something.

“He started to sniff the air,” he said. “He started pulling me via leash to the far end of the parking lot … He dragged me down a bit further, that’s when I noticed two garbage bags.”

The bags were about 50 feet away from where he and Justice had been standing, he said.

One bag appeared to have fur inside, so Huffman said he returned Justice to the patrol vehicle and informed Butler Township police.

The bags contained two dead German shepherds with matted hair, Huffman said. One of the dogs was chipped, and its owner, identified as Frederick, responded to the scene and was interviewed.

Officer Drew Blasko of Butler Township police said Frederick did not initially claim the dogs as his own. Later, he testified Frederick said the dogs died a week prior, but that he was unsure how.

The dead dogs were taken to the ANNA Shelter in Erie County for autopsies, which were performed by Dr. Sarah Zeigler, who also testified Wednesday.

Zeigler said the dead dogs had little to no muscle or fat on them, matted fur and looked extremely emancipated.

“My conclusion was that they died of starvation,” she said.

On cross examination, Pawk asked if it was possible the dogs had died from viruses that would cause them to stop eating. Zeigler replied during questioning that there was no evidence to support the dogs dying from viruses.

Pawk later argued there was a lack of evidence relating to the cause of death of the two German shepherds.

“There’s been no definite testing to rule out any underlying illnesses,” he said. “I understand it might be enough for this level, but I want to make my argument that they should be dismissed.”

Trooper Ryan Magill said state police got involved once it was discovered Frederick lived in Connoquenessing Township, and that three more dogs were potentially in his residence.

Magill said he called Frederick and requested to do a welfare check on the condition of the other dogs. When he arrived, Magill said he was shown two more German shepherds and a golden retriever, which had matted fur.

A search of Frederick’s home was conducted on April 6, with Huffman and Magill present.

“The conditions of the residence were fairly in order; however, there was a strong odor of ammonia,” Huffman said. “There was urine in places, feces all through the house, litter all through the house.”

Both Huffman and Magill said Frederick signed over six dogs to be taken into custody by the ANNA Shelter, but when it came to the other animals, he became uncooperative.

“Obviously, it’s a very emotional situation involving animals. As time went on, he became more upset,” Huffman said.

“(Frederick) was asked to leave,” Magill said, explaining that Frederick was yelling at officers and refused to comply with orders.

Frederick was eventually shocked with a Taser twice before troopers arrested him, Magill said.

The remaining animals, which included 13 dogs, two ducks, two pigs, seven goats and 26 cats, were taken to the ANNA Shelter.

Zeigler said she conducted examinations of the dogs and cats. Some of the dogs with longer hair were “dreadlocked with feces and urine,” she said, while others were underweight or had dental diseases.

She said some of the kittens taken from Frederick’s home had ringworm, upper respiratory infections or eye infections, which had to be treated.

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