Dogs Rescued from Breeder

SHICKSHINNY -- Humane officers in Luzerne County say three people from Freeland are facing the most animal abuse charges ever filed in the county after their breeding facility in Conyngham Township was found filthy.

The three were in a courtroom Wednesday morning to face 130 counts each of animal abuse-related charges.

John Dancho had nothing to say walking out of court after his arraignment in Shickshinny.

Luzerne County Humane Officers took away 36 dogs from his breeding facility in Conyngham Township. Some had no water. Others were left outside in the cold for hours, and all of them were living in filth.

Dancho's daughter Amanda and Dancho's girlfriend of 40 years, Michelle Starkey, were also charged in connection with this case.

All three are each facing 130 counts of animal abuse-related charges.

"I can't make other people do what they don't want to do, I can only take care of my own life," said Michelle Starkey.

All 36 dogs have been taken away from them and were in the care of the Luzerne County SPCA and nearby shelters. Humane officers say it makes them feel sick to think of the conditions those 36 dogs were left in by the Danchos.

"You can't imagine what the smell was like in there. If you could mix urine and feces, very hard to breathe. These animals had to breathe those fumes as well and, of course, the dogs have a much keener sense of smell than we do, so it's even extra worse on them," said Humane Officer Wayne Harvey.

John Dancho and Michelle Starkey were released on $50,000 unsecured bail. Amanda Dancho was released and did not have to post bail.  All three are scheduled to be back in court for their preliminary hearing in February.

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