Delco pet 'rescue' operator convicted of animal cruelty

Twenty-eight dogs, most of them German Shepherd or Shepherd mixes, were removed from the two-story building just a block from the borough hall after neighbors complained about the strong odor and noises.
Twenty-eight dogs, most of them German Shepherd or Shepherd mixes, were removed from the two-story building just a block from the borough hall after neighbors complained about the strong odor and noises.
Posted: July 25, 2013

A Delaware County lawyer who operated a Marcus Hook pet "rescue" operation that was raided in February was found guilty Tuesday of 43 counts of animal cruelty, 28 counts of dog-law violations, and two zoning violations.

Terry Silva, 53, who ran the Sixth Angel Shepherd Rescue Inc. out of her two-story building, had no comment after the hearing, where she represented herself.

She was fined $7,900.

The 28 charges of animal cruelty against an employee, Samantha Kenney, 28, of Marcus Hook, were dismissed.

Twenty-eight dogs, most of them German shepherd or shepherd mixes, were removed from the building, just a block from the borough hall, after neighbors complained about the strong odor and noise.

Many of the dogs were sick and underweight, officials said. One elderly dog was euthanized.

"Here is someone who was supposedly providing sanctuary and safe haven for animals in need but ironically was an abuser," said Wendy Marano, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania SPCA. "That is what makes it especially egregious."

In a video released by the SPCA, a rail-thin German shepherd struggled to stand on a feces-covered wood floor before he gave up and slid to the ground and looked up at the camera, which was held by a humane officer. Nearby were two more dogs - one peering out from a filthy crate and another pacing about the squalor.

Many of the dogs were sick and underweight. The dog in the video that slipped eventually was euthanized for health reasons, officials said. Most of the dogs have since been adopted, officials said.

Bruce A. Dorbian, the borough manager, said the process had been long and involved.

Silva has a history of appealing court cases, he said. "She is a litigator," said Dorbian. "These are likely to be appealed, unfortunately."

"This lady is a hoarder and needs psychological help," said George Bengal, director of law enforcement for the state SPCA.

Bengal said that hoarders often are well-educated and caring but that when things go awry they can't keep up with proper animal care.

He said Silva was cooperative and released the animals to authorities.

Silva has since petitioned for the return of five of the dogs, said SPCA lawyer Elizabeth Anderson.

Silva has had previous run-ins with authorities involving her rescue operations.

In November 2010, more than a dozen dogs were removed from a property used by Silva after complaints of unsanitary conditions. A caretaker was charged with cruelty in that case.

Also in 2010, Silva, former solicitor for the Chichester Area school board, was cited by the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement for illegally transporting dogs from North Carolina.


Contact Mari A. Schaefer at 610-313-8111, mschaefer@phillynews.com or @MariSchaefer on Twitter.

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