Man Sentenced in Animal Abuse Case

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. -- A man from Luzerne County will spend a month in jail and be put on probation for illegally breeding dogs in deplorable conditions.

John Dancho, 71, of Conyngham Township, was charged in January with more than 130 counts of animal cruelty-related charges.

So were his girlfriend Michelle Starkey and his daughter Amanda.

Humane officers say the illegal breeding operation at Dancho's property near Wapwallopen netted the most animal cruelty charges ever filed in Luzerne County.

"The cages were all urine filled, feces, no water in any bowl or anywhere in the house for the animals. There were Shih Tzus as well as German short-hair pointers," said Luzerne County Humane Officer Wayne Harvey who was there the day the dogs were discovered.

Humane officers took 36 dogs away from Dancho's home. The dogs were living in filthy conditions. Some were left outside in freezing temperatures without food and water.

"The water in their water buckets was frozen solid and they had been licking the water trying to get nourishment like that and there was like holes in the ice."

Harvey is satisfied with Dancho's sentence of some jail time and probation.

"I'm a humane officer. I work in the police force. I prefer to have a lot more jail time, but I do respect the court's decision," said Harvey. "He's got a lot of things ahead of him. I feel it is appropriate and we always respect what the court does."

Dancho will serve a month in jail and then be placed on probation and house arrest.

The charges against his daughter have been dropped because of her mental state.

Charges are still pending against his girlfriend Michelle Starkey.

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