Dog taken by humane officer dies in care of authorities; Charges filed

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CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. —

A family in Cambria County said their dog was taken from the front porch of their home by a humane officer that was not from their county.

Now that officer and the neighbor caring for the dog are facing charges.

According to WJAC-TV in Johnstown, the 15-year-old dog named Favre was taken from the family’s porch while they were on vacation last week.

The Myers family said while they were away, their dog was taken from their Gallitzin Borough porch by a humane officer from Blair County.

A neighbor said she was caring for the family’s dog while they were away, feeding it and checking on it several times daily.

“He was old. When someone else gets old and limp, that means you’re going to put us down too?” said neighbor Jenny Wills. “It’s horrible. Those little kids are suffering. The family is suffering.”

Wills is facing animal cruelty charges and the family of the dog is suing the officer who took the dog. 

The humane officer is  facing charges of theft for allegedly taking the dog, the family's attorney said. The officer is also facing impersonating a public servant charges because the officer didn't have any authority in Cambria County, the family's attorney said.

The Central Pennsylvania Humane Society in Altoona admitted Monday that the incident was outside of its jurisdiction but said it was asked by the police chief of Gallitzin Borough to assist after getting complaints of neglect from concerned citizens.

The humane society said its officer, Paul Gottshall, helped police as a professional courtesy.

"He told me our animal was severely abused and neglected and that they were taking it to the vet," Chris Myers said. "I said to him, 'Wait a minute, you just can't come onto my yard and take my animal.’”

According to Pennsylvania law, a humane officer only has authority in the particular county whose court of common pleas issued his or her appointment and no others.

A check of the state Department of Agriculture's Registry of Humane Society Police Officers online shows Gottshall is only sworn in in Blair and Centre counties, not Cambria.