Who, age What Where When Last Known Address
Kevin Newman(1) 73 animals seized

Thompson Township, Susquehanna County, PA

January 12, 2006  
Linda Jones-Newman(2) 73 animals seized

Thompson Township, Susquehanna County, PA

January 12, 2006  
Type of Crime Other Crimes #/Type of animal(s) involved Case Status Next Court Date /Courthouse
   

6 ducks, 2 guinea hens, 15 chickens, 7 geese, 1 parakeet, 4 cats, 5 dogs, 6 pigmy goats, 1 mini pony, 2 mini donkeys, 2 llamas, 1 miniature cow, 3 sheep, 17 horses and 1 grade pony

(1)Convicted

(2)Acquitted

 
Research Kevin Newman   Docket # NT-0000056-06  found guilty of animal cruelty

January 12 was a difficult day for Humane Society Police officer Chad Weaver who, along with officers from the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, removed 73 animals from the property of Linda Jones-Newman and Kevin Newman in Thompson Township.

The Newman's were read their rights, then Weaver and assisting officers, Barbara Balsman, Stroudsburg, Joe Fellencer, Danville, and Reba McDonald, Clarion, began inspection. PA State Trooper Bushta assisted in executing a search warrant, with help from State Dog Warden Ray Smith and 10 volunteers.

Dr. Ellen Johnson, DVM, assisted in examining the animals. She performed euthanasia on a horse found in extremely poor condition.

Weaver and company spent the rest of the day gathering animals, removing them to Humane Societies and/or foster care homes. Animals included horses, pigs, ponies, donkeys, llamas, sheep, goats, dogs, cats, ducks, geese, chickens, Guinea Hens and exotic birds.

The animals were judged to be in poor condition. Most were underweight and many didn't have access to clean, fresh food or water.

The living conditions of the animals brought officers near to gagging. The house, barn, milkhouse and pasture were all in unsanitary condition. The animals had not received proper care on a daily basis, nor proper veterinary care.

Rescuers found a pony with a wound left unattended for a year; four dogs trapped in cages filled with feces and urine; stalls for larger animals filled with manure. The goats shared their stall with a dead goat.

"It was overwhelming, to see so many animals in such poor conditions," said Weaver, "And in such poor physical shape."

Many animals required veterinary care after removal. A cow was euthanized when it became clear it would not survive.

The Newman's were asked to surrender animals to the custody of the PSPCA, but did not immediately respond.

Twenty seven charges of animal cruelty have been filed against the Newman's with Magisterial District Judge Peter Janicelli, New Milford. A hearing is set for March 13.

Now the task and cost of caring for the animals lies with the PSPCA, with foster home cost additional. Vet bills amount to thousands of dollars.

Update 3/27/06:  Two witnesses for the prosecution testified against the Newman's in court.

The Newman's were at district court in New Milford's for a summary trial, but refused to talk.

A woman who is caring for some of the animals removed from the Newman's farm had photographs of a pony with a deep wound on its back. She is among many who are taking care of other animals.

"Some are at my branch of the Pennsylvania SPCA. Some others are at the Clarion County branch of the Pennsylvania SPCA. Some are in Danville, some are in foster care homes around the area here," explained Weaver.

Veterinarian Ellen Johnson has been caring for the Newman's horses since 2001. It was last year when she noticed that some horses were dying and decided to call in the authorities.

"I was also informed that the owner did not have sufficient finances to replace grain that we had removed from the horses until we can prove that that grain was not contaminated accidentally and responsible for the neurological conditions," Dr. Johnson said.

Dave Ingerson worked for the Newman's three years ago. He said when he worked for them, the animals were healthy.

The trial took longer than expected so the judge put the case on temporary hold. It will continue as soon as the court calendar allows.

Update 5/17/06:  Following the May 10 testimony from SPCA officers, a veterinarian and two people who are fostering some of the 73 animals seized, Defense Attorney Robert Hollister asked for a demurrer of citations in the case against Linda Jones-Newman and Kevin Newman , stating he did not believe the Commonwealth had proved the animals received improper care.

Susquehanna County D.A. Jason Legg responded that it would take him about 10 days to prepare the necessary briefs. Hollister said he needed only two days to respond to those. District Justice Peter Janicelli set the case to continue, as best fit schedules, after the 12 days.

"In my 18 years of being an SPCO, I've never seen filthier cages," said Babara Balsman, Humane Society Police Officer, of the cages she found dogs confined in.

Balsam was the third SPCA officer who assisted in the seizure to take the stand describing the condition of the animals. "I've done a lot of seizures in my time, and it was one of the worst cases of unsanitary conditions I've ever seen," said Balsman.

In his cross-examination, Newman's attorney Robert Hollister asked Balsman what clean and sanitary meant.  "It doesn't mean two to three inches of excrement," she responded.

Balsman, along with Joseph Fellencer of the Danville SPCA and Rebecca McDonald of the Clarion SPCA, testified to seeing no clean water, feed or bedding provided for the animals.

Fellencer, along with the dog warden, opened the door to the milk room where the dogs were housed. "The fumes were ghastly," said Fellencer. He said they had to hold their breath and time going in to get the dogs.

Balsman also described the room the dogs were kept in. "The urine and ammonia smell hit you right in the face," she said.

Fellencer described the condition of the dogs as being moderately underweight and they were anxious and hyperactive during the seizure.

McDonald, a 19-year field officer, inventoried the animals and aided in the capture of the free range ducks and geese. "The birds did not run away," she said. She described the birds as being easy to catch and lethargic. McDonald could also feel no meat on the keel (breast) bones of the birds and said they were "very thin."

Chickens were found in basically the same physical condition, according to McDonald. She described the building they were housed in as a "slurry" with two to three inches of wet fecal matter mud all over the coop.

The birds, along with a cow and 8 horses, were sent to the Clarion branch of the SPCA for housing. Currently, 4 horses are at the facility and the other 4 have been placed in foster care.

Upon arrival at the Clarion SPCA, a veterinarian examined Foggy the cow. Described by McDonald as 'very emaciated', attempts were made to stabilize Foggy with food and water. The cow's condition, however, deteriorated. She became weak and couldn't stand, according to McDonald and she stopped eating. After an attempt to force feed her, Foggy was euthanized.

McDonald also testified to the condition of the horses housed in Clarion. "All of the horses looked better in a couple of days which we attribute to water," said McDonald.

One of the horses, known as Chelsea, had an oozing wound with a large scab. McDonald said she was told 'It heals better of you don't clean it' by the defendant at the premises.

Another horse, known as Rocky, had a fly mask on for an eye injury. "For something that had a wound, the stall was filthy," said McDonald.

In her testimony regarding the living conditions, McDonald said she saw no available water; there was a dead goat laying in the stall with the other goats milling around it and the paddocks were deep in mud and manure.

Attorney Hollister asked McDonald to explain the word 'filthy.'  "Dirt, manure, you touch it you get grime. Were they sinking into it? Yeah," she said.

Prior to the testimony from the SPCA officers, District Attorney Jason Legg called Dr. Lise Lund as an expert witness in veterinarian medicine. Dr. Lund specializes in equines.

Dr. Lund was asked to examine the 9 horses taken to the Danville SPCA branch. She found no animals to be at a critical status in her Jan. 15 exam.

The following day, Dr. Lund returned to provide a more thorough exam of an Appaloosa Gelding, known at the shelter as 'Pete". He was found to be 30 to 35 percent underweight, dehydrated and had a fungal dermatitis condition. Dr. Lund said it was ample evidence he had not been receiving proper care.

She described him as being emaciated with the horse's spine and hips prominent to the point of no muscle definition. "In my professional opinion, he was not receiving adequate care and grooming," she said.

Dr. Lund examined the rest of the horses, a pony and 2 donkeys on Jan. 19. Several more animals were found to be underweight and/or have the fungal dermititis. Three horses suffered from sever thrush and all of the animals were found to be heavily parasitic, according to Dr. Lund.

According to Dr. Lund, the animals have vastly improved since her initial examinations of the animals brought to the Danville SPCA, "to the point of not being recognizable as the same animals," said the vet.

Two women, from the Clifford area, who are fostering some of the animals also testified on the improvement they've seen since they started housing the animals.

Marlene Innanen took in 2 pygmy goats and a pony.  The smallest goat weighed 16 pounds at about 9 months of age when it was seized and currently weighs about 32 pounds, according to Innanen.

Jean McAlla is currently fostering a pony, 2 horses, 2 llamas, 3 sheep and 2 goats. She has had them for 4 months and all the animals have gained weight.

The Humane Society is seeking almost $38,000 in restitution and about $4,000 in veterinary bills for the care of the animals, Susquehanna County PSPCA Humane Society Police Officer Chad Weaver said on the stand.

Update 6/7/06:  Linda Jones-Newman said she wasn't surprised SPCA officers didn't find any feed out for the animals when the animals were seized.

Newman took the stand June 1.  In her testimony, Newman said she was just returning home from her job and a stop for groceries when she saw the trailers on the road near her property.

Newman said the animals were fed in the morning when she returned home from work and due to the seizure, she had not been able to feed the animals that morning. She did, however, say she was surprised to hear there was no water. "In winter, they don't drink as much and I've never found them to go through all the water."

Newman reported the "stalls would get cleaned every couple of days or at least picked out every couple of days." She went on to say her help had unexpectedly quit on her near the holidays (of 2005) and she had trouble keeping up and couldn't get anyone to work.

Newman went on to answer questions regarding the normal daily care given to the animals. Feed and worming medication invoices were submitted into evidence by Newman's attorney, Robert Hollister.

Hollister then questioned Newman about the condition of several of the animals. Chelsea, the pony with an open wound on her back, had been seen by veterinarian Ellen Johnson who diagnosed a fractured wither. Newman said she paid $1,800 to $1,900 for surgery on the pony and "took her to Cornell myself."

Regarding the seven-year-old gelding named Reo, Newman said, "I was concerned about his weight." He was given constant water and round bales, grained in the morning and again later if needed, according to Newman. She suspected 'bots or tapeworm."

Reo, when examined by equine veterinarian Lise Lund following the seizure, was found to be 35 to 40 percent underweight, according to prior testimony.

The white goat, found dead in the stall, was alive the evening before the seizure, according to Newman.  "Yes, it was in distress," she said and described the goat as crying, staying away from the other goats and that it refused to eat. "It was alive the last time I saw it."

Newman said she bought grain every other week. On Dec. 27, 2005, Veterinarian Johnson recommended Newman stop feeding animals the grain she had just purchased because that may have been what was causing animals to get sick.

Before Newman took the stand, several witnesses for the defense were called. Two men who had helped the Thompson area couple work the farm testified in their behalf. Dave Ingerson, who worked there from 2000 to 2004 as a hired hand, said there were no problems with horses dying, no emaciated horses and no thin horses on the farm during his employment.

Louis DeJoseph echoed the testimony. "As far as I was concerned, Linda always took care of the animals," he said." (Linda) would buy animals that needed to be nurtured back to health."

A neighbor whose daughter exchanged work on the Newman farm for horseback riding lessons, also took the stand. In her testimony, she said she was never concerned with the conditions of the animals or the stalls.

After the seizure, she came to the farm to help clean the stalls. "I do not feel there was as much as what they were saying," she said and described an "inch or so"of feces, hay and sawdust packed down in the stalls.

Also called by the defense was a farrier used by the Newman's and a man who had sold a horse to Linda Jones-Newman at an auction last fall. The horse has since been euthanized.

The hearing was once again continued. District Justice Peter Janicelli advised the attorneys to make most of their day available on the next scheduled date so the case could be concluded. The hearing resumes on July 6.

The events leading up to the Jan. 12 seizure of the 73 animals from the newman farm are as follows:

A complaint regarding the condition of the dogs at the Newman residence led Pennsylvania SPCA humane officer Chad Weaver to visit the Thompson area farm and inspect the condition of the dogs in late summer or early fall of 2005.

Weaver noticed, at that time, a large quantity of feces and urine in the milkhouse the dogs were kept in and he observed no clean water of food in the cages with the dogs.

Weaver instructed the Newman's to take steps to correct the unsanitary conditions.

Prior to Weaver's visit to the Thompson area farm, Dr. Ellen Johnson, the Newman's veterinarian, noted concern regarding the care the animals were receiving and that some of the problems might be related to malnutrition. According to testimony, in February 2005, Dr. Johnson told Linda Jones Newman she needed to address concerns regarding the insufficient amount of pasture, the low quality of hay she was providing and that she had too many animals.

Dr. Johnson was at the farm in August 2005 and once again voiced her concerns over the number of animals and quality of feed. In her opinion, she thought the horses were not receiving the nutrition they needed. She advised Newman to reduce the number of animals on the farm by half. Newman did not heed the vet's advice.

Five horses died on the Newman farm between October and December 2005. Dr. Johnson was not called in any of those cases. She was, however, called in late December 2005, for a horse which was down. The horse had to be euthanized. According to the vet's testimony, she found the condition of the horse upsetting. The horse was lying in its own feces and urine with not enough bedding to keep it warm and dry. She also said the horse was down for several days before she was called and had been left unattended.

At that visit, the vet also noted that three other horses in the barn appeared very thin. Dr. Johnson again questioned the grain quality and Newman said she did not, at the time, to purchase any other feed. Dr. Johnson called and left a message about the situation with Officer Weaver.

On Jan. 9, 2006, while waiting for a response from Officer Weaver, Dr. Johnson was once again called to the Newman's for horse in distress. Her financé, Thomas Rogers, went with her to the farm. The horse was found lying in the middle of the barn alley with shallow breathing. Another horse was found bloated and down in a stall.

Rogers testified to finding no straw or hay in any of the stalls he checked and the stalls had layers of manure with no dry spots for the horses.

The conditions surrounding the downed horses in January were similar to the what Dr. Johnson encountered in December. She found insufficient bedding and dirty stalls.

The vet again called Officer Weaver who then inspected the Newman farm on Jan. 10. During the inspection, Officer Weaver saw two dead horses which had been euthanized the day before and a pile of three dead rams or sheep.

Upon inspecting the paddocks, the SPCO discovered the horses did not have access to fresh water and the only available water was running off of a manure pile. He found buckets in the paddocks but no water was in the buckets.

Concerned about the condition of the animals, Officer Weaver obtained a search warrant which was executed on Jan. 12, 2006. At that time, 73 animals were seized from the Newman farm and citations were issued against Linda Jones Newman and Kevin Newman .

Update 7/6/06:  The owners of a farm in our area who were charged with abusing their animals are now getting those animals back.  They were found not guilty on all but one of the charges.

Just hours after they were cleared of most of the charges against them, Kevin Newman and his family pulled into the Humane Society near Montrose.

Several dogs cats and birds have been living there since March.  Several other animals had already died there.

"There was a lot of stress for the last six months that was going on with this and I just wanted to thank all our friends who stood by us," Kevin Newman said.

The Newman's got back more than 60 of their animals. The dogs, cats and birds were housed at the Humane Society. The bigger animals, mainly horses, were cared for by volunteers throughout the area. They're to be returned in the coming days but hard feelings remain.

"I told you before I got nothing against you for what you did. You thought you were doing a good job, you thought okay. You thought wrong," Newman said to Weaver.

The Newman's use the animals as attractions at their bed and breakfast, and as part of a traveling petting zoo. They won't say if they're planning a lawsuit against the Humane Society.

Update 7/7/06:  The Newman family in Susquehanna County is fighting to get the remaining 6 animals back after a District Judge ordered the horses, ducks, geese and other animals be returned.

(Photo courtesy of WNEP)  Kevin Newman and Linda Jones-Newman are happy that they have been vindicated of animal abuse charges but they stated they lost a considerable amount of money in the process.  "We had people that come and stay and do riding lessons. We had people that board their horses here. We have 4H kids and it hurt our business," said Kevin Newman who owns Green Meadows Farm.

Most of the animals returned to the Newman's were in good health but some were not. Newman stated that some of the animals taken needed medications and one of their horse came back totally blind.

For now, the Newman's are thankful most of their animals are back but they still want the rest returned.

"It was just a sad situation that it took six months to get all these animals back but we're glad that they're home and they're glad that they're home," added Newman.

Update 8/24/06:  One horse named Cloud has been in foster care for 5 months and is blind.  The Newman's claim he was not blind when he was taken from them.  Veterinarian Lise Lund who treated the horse when it was seized reported that the horse is 95-98% blind and at end stage uveitas.

Another issue is with 5 goats and a pony.  The Susquehanna County district attorney has filed a petition to try to get the animals back to the owner but caretakers said they haven't been paid by the PA SPCA.

Dr. Lund blamed the limitations of Pennsylvania law to prosecute the Newman's and is still concerned about the well-being of animals returned to their care.

Humane officers and caretakers are defending the way they took care of some animals during an abuse investigation.

The dispute centers around a horse that is blind.  Kevin Newman and Linda Jones-Newman, insist the horse was able to see before he was removed from their farm. Those who treated the animal during its time away have a different version.

Harry Zimmerman has been taking care of horses for 35 years. For about five months earlier this year, he nursed a gelding named Cloud back to health on this farm in Lycoming County.  "By the end of that time we could go from his stall, out into the paddocks, through the gateways," Zimmerman said.

The horse he treated is blind. Its owners, the Newman's, blame the caretaker and the Pennsylvania SPCA for returning him in that condition. They said he wasn't totally blind before.

That claim is disputed by Zimmerman.  "He was completely blind when he arrived, which is why I was chosen to take care of him instead of him going with the other horses," Zimmerman maintained.

The Newman's claim also frustrates the veterinarian who treated the horse, Dr. Lise Lund. "I have him written down as 95 percent to 98 percent blind and at end stage uveitas as my diagnostic on the original medical record," she said.

Another issue is with 5 goats and a pony that still haven't been returned to the original owner. The Susquehanna County district attorney has filed a petition to try to get the animals back to the owner but the caretakers said they haven't been paid by the Pennsylvania SPCA.

Those other caretakers requested their names not be used. They said they were promised $10 a day to take care of the pony and $5 a day for each goat. But the Pennsylvania SPCA said those kinds of payments are not the norm.

"If they have the means, they provide the full care of the animal, and do not charge anything but we usually make that very clear before we put the animal into anyone's care," said Humane Officer Joe Fellencer.

Ultimately, all the people involved in Lycoming County just want to make sure all the animals, including the blind horse, get the fair treatment they deserve.

"We could train him and work with him so he could actually go outside and kind of live a better life," Zimmerman said.

Update 12/21/08:  Miss Kittipie's owner, Linda Jones-Newman, watched in horror as her 13-year-old quarter horse was killed by lethal injection under the direction of the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Now, the agency is being accused in federal court of violating Jones-Newman's civil rights.

The Pennsylvania case could set precedent across the United States for the way SPCAs seize and destroy property without recourse for owners. The case will be heard in Wilkes-Barre federal court. Litigants are awaiting a trial date.

Miss Kittipie, was a former racer who received an injection of medicine in her injured knee when she was 2. The medicine caused the knee to swell and it stayed that way. The horse managed normally with the knee for 11 years and even brought eight foals to term as a brood mare. Miss Kittipie had been with the Newman's for nine months.

Johnson saw the knee and thought Miss Kittipie was crippled. She tried to convince the Newman's to put her down. They would not agree. When she left the farm Jan. 9, Johnson, who was later found to be working without a veterinary license according to court papers, called the PSPCA.

Johnson later admitted, at a preliminary hearing in court, that Miss Kittipie's condition was chronic rather than an emergency.

Three days later, with no warning, PSPCA humane police officer Chad Weaver served a search warrant and issued a threat to the Newman's

"He said, 'This can end right now. If you give me all your animals, this can end.' He said they would drop the animal cruelty charges if I cooperated and gave all my animals over," Kevin Newman said. The animals had food, water and shelter. Newman did not agree to give them up.

This tactic is part of PSPCA humane officer training statewide.

"We were taught to intimidate people into giving their animals up. We were told to tell them 'in lieu of charges, surrender your animals,'" said one former PSPCA humane officer.

Some former officers say there was a quota.

"My Christmas bonus depended on how many animals I brought in," said former PSPCA humane officer Tammy Kerr.

That's false, says Howard Nelson, PSPCA chief executive.  "There is no such quota. The majority of our cases are resolved by leaving the animals in place with some education," he said.

Kevin Newman says that without discussion and with no opportunity to get another vet's opinion, humane officers walked Miss Kittipie out of her stall the day of the raid and instructed Johnson to kill her, right in front of the owners.  "I was really hurt. She was a sweet horse," Newman said.

The lawsuit brought by Linda Jones-Newman accuses the PSPCA of violating her civil rights by abusing its authority.  It says humane police officers, acting as agents of the state, or acting under the color of law, seized property without notice and did not allow the Newman's an opportunity for defense.

"They took property and destroyed it and permanently deprived them of it, without giving the Newman's an opportunity for a hearing," said Stroudsburg attorney Kevin Fitzgerald, who represents Jones-Newman.

"This theory that humane officers have all this authority is not true. There are all kinds of checks and balances," countered Nelson.

PSPCA humane officers take photos and video of evidence at the scene. They also document an animal's condition during a medical evaluation.

After killing Miss Kittipie, the PSPCA humane officers were not done. They loaded up many animals: 6 ducks, 2 guinea hens, 15 chickens, 7 geese, 1 parakeet, 4 cats, 5 dogs, 5 pigmy goats, 1 mini pony, 2 mini donkeys, 2 llamas, 1 miniature cow, 3 sheep, 16 horses and 1 grade pony. The seized animals became evidence. Some of the evidence was destroyed. The miniature cow was later killed by the PSPCA, which claimed it was dehydrated.

Humane officers also removed a macaw from the house in the middle of winter and left the tropical bird in a cold vehicle for hours during the seizure, according to Kevin Newman.

True to his word — since the animals were not given up freely — Weaver charged Linda Jones-Newman with 25 counts of animal cruelty and deprivation and Kevin Newman with two counts.

A judge later dismissed all charges against Linda and one against Kevin. He paid $75 in a total fines for faulty sanitary conditions of 4 dogs. The PSPCA was ordered to give the animals back.

If they had been found guilty, the Newman's would have been forced to pay the PSPCA about $56,000 for the care of their animals by the agency and other foster homes. They also would have had to pay for the cost of the destruction of any animals the PSPCA deemed sick under Pennsylvania cruelty to animals law.

"The Newman's were running a rescue. They were taking animals in bad shape and trying to rehabilitate them. The PSPCA made a decision that some animals could not be rehabilitated," said attorney Fitzgerald.

Some of the animals that lived through the ordeal were returned from the PSPCA in deplorable condition, according to Newman. The dogs and cats had fleas, ear mites and hair so matted that it had to be cut.

A tricolor Australian shepherd's white fur was stained yellow from months of living in the PSPCA's urine-soaked cage. "He was lying in urine when we went to get them," Newman said.

"Linda Jones was found not guilty of cruelty to animals on all counts. If not guilty of cruelty, why did they kill the animals?" Fitzgerald said.

Publicity for this and other high-profile seizures boosts PSPCA donations while simultaneously smearing the reputation of animal owners.

"After this happened I was afraid to leave my farm. I thought they would come back. Now people look at me like I'm the animal killer. Everybody thinks they (PSPCA) are God's gift to animals. They kill most of the animals that they have in their shelters and the ones they confiscate," Newman claimed.

Testimony given in court is considered credible when coming from PSPCA officers because they are supposed to be animal experts. They also have total control over evidence — animals — that are alive and can change over time.

In the Newman case, humane officers made life-and-death decisions about animals first and prosecuted later.  "They claimed the animal was in dire straights after the fact," Fitzgerald said.

Live evidence kept in storage cages for months and sometimes years while court cases drag on cannot be adopted out. It would seem to create a storage problem at the crowded shelters.

"It is the same process the police go through when they suspect a crime. In any search warrant process, the evidence is always seized. You have to secure the evidence to put on your case. The difference with a living, breathing animal is that we have to provide care. We are required by law to do everything we can for the animals so they are ready for adoption when we win the case," Nelson said.

When confiscated animals die of sicknesses, the blame is often allocated to the allegedly abusive owner, even after the animals have been in PSPCA care long enough to develop new illnesses.

The PSPCA made its case with the following statement:  "When animals are seized as evidence, they are just that — evidence for the case. Until a judge makes a determination of guilt in the case, the animals are still property of the defense. We cannot adopt the animals, but we can make a determination, with veterinary guidance, to euthanize suffering animals."

Animals that don't die in PSPCA custody can be penned up so long that they go stir crazy.  Once an animal's behavior is negatively affected, it may likely be considered not adoptable and become marked for death row.

Animals cleared for adoption pay their own way. They are not adopted out until a new owner gives a cash donation to the PSPCA.

Reference:

WNEP 16 Pocono Record
Susquehanna County Independent & Weekender PSPCA