Dog-breeding operation continues to hound West Cocalico residents

By on August 10, 2016

Continuing concerns over what some surmise is a “puppy mill” near a residential neighborhood again surfaced at the Aug. 4 West Cocalico Township meeting.

Bonnie Iwanowski was before the supervisors for the third time on the subject of Benuel Stoltzfus’ dog breeding operation located at 685 Wollups Hill Road.

In January 2016, Stoltzfus sought a special exception from the zoning board for his dog kennel.

His exception was granted if he would “contain the manure pile or move it to a location away from neighbors,” and “move the kennel so it is at least 100 feet from the property line and remove the additional pen.”

Iwanowski said it appears Stoltzfus has not complied with all the terms and “nobody seems to be doing anything about it.”

West Cocalico Solicitor Larry Maier was at the meeting on other matters and was questioned by Iwanowski.

“Why can’t the township stop the puppy mill until he complies with the laws?” she asked.

“Because the decision didn’t put a dot on the time limit, and without a time limit, the ordinance gives two years,” said Maier.

Stoltzfus has two years to meet the requirements of the ordinance so the puppy mill remains open.

Iwanowski addressed the supervisors.

“I’m here about the two years Benuel Stoltzfus may have to comply with the zoning ordinance,” said Iwanowski. “Nobody called us back. The last time at the meeting on June 21, you (addressing Supervisor Chair James J. Stoner) or Carolyn (Hildebrand, township manager) was going to call me back. I really think you guys think I’m a nuisance. I’m sorry, but it’s really hard living next to this puppy mill.”

“I apologize for not calling, but you do understand there’s a process there and there is a set zoning rules and regulations,” said Stoner. “Until he does something that pushes us to do something else, there’s very little we can do. We all agreed to what he was going to do. He had a two-year time limit, maybe that’s excessive, I’m not saying it’s not or is. There’s very little I can force him to do.”

The kennel is not the regulated 100 feet from Iwanowski’s property.

“The zoning regulation states that in order for him to have that kennel, he has to be 100 feet from my property,” said Iwanowski. “That’s not part of his special exception, that’s part of the zoning regulation, so why can’t you enforce that?”

“I don’t know,” said Stoner.

Iwanowski was shaking and at times at tears.

“They bark and now he’s put barking collars on them and when they bark, they cry,” said Iwanowski.

Stoltzfus has also been using a “chicken wire cage” meant more for rabbits, to contain some dogs.

“He has Yorkies in a unheated pen in the winter which is against the law,” said Iwanowski. “It was reported to the township and SPCA and nothing has been done about it. All winter those dogs were in that pen.”

“I don’t want to talk about history, I want to talk about the present,” Stoner said.

“I would ask any of you to come to my house,” said Iwanowski. “I try to have a picnic at my house and we start talking and the dogs start yapping and barking and it’s very annoying. I don’t know how he can take care of 30 some dogs by himself anyway.”

Iwanowski continued to plea with the supervisors.

“We hear them cry and we hear gunshots,” said Iwanowski. “We don’t know if he’s shooting the dogs that he no longer needs.”

The supervisors seemed at loss for words.

“I think we all would, but again, to make a statement and not have anything proof to back it up is falsely accusing somebody. I’m not saying you can’t have an opinion, I respect your opinion,” said Stoner.

“Maybe I should put some cameras up there, I don’t know,” said Iwanowski.

“Absolutely, help us help you,” said Stoner.

“I try not to be a nuisance to the township,” said Iwanowski. “If you look at what the dog laws say, they are supposed to run in a grassy area. There’s no grass.”

There has also been concern because the surrounding homes have wells “into which the feces seep,” she said, adding the dogs “are fed meat, and their waste may contain E. coli.”

Iwanowski contended that the wells below Stoltzfus’ property and neighbors’ gardens “are at risk of being contaminated.”

“Everybody says it’s somebody else’s job,” said Iwanowski. “Somebody, someday I hope, takes care of the animals. I don’t believe the dog wardens are.”

In other news:

*Stoner read from a letter from Michael Keiser, the district executive of PennDOT. In June, council requested additional signing at a dangerous intersection. The letter stated, in part:

“…PennDOT will install crossroad signs supplemented with single-line advance street name plaques at both approaches to the intersection. PennDOT will also close the existing passing zone that begins just north of the intersection.

“PennDOT recommends that West Cocalico Township install stop lines on Indiantown Road at both approaches to the intersection to encourage motorist to stop where they will achieve maximum sight distance.”

*Stoner also read a resolution to file a request for an injunction against the owners of an illegal automobile repair facility at 2 Martin Circle in Reinholds.

“…As they are in violation of the West Cocalico Township Zoning ordinance and they have neither complied with the cease-and-desist order regarding the business they are operating at the property nor filed an appeal of such order within 30 days of service of same.”

“Assuming the court sets a deadline to comply, if they don’t reach it, we go back in for petition to hold them in contempt and then the court has the option of fines, jail,” said Maier.

Michele Walter Fry welcomes your comments at michelewalterfry@gmail.com.

One Comment

  1. Joan Brooks

    August 11, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    When I was interviewed today I was unaware of the severity of the problems of the neighbors around this puppy mill. No one should have to put up with such practices.
    I can say that these neighbors are honest and caring people and certainly would not lie about the conditions. I am very upset that there is no one to help them. I certainly would not like to live under these conditions.

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