When the Carbon County Animal Response Team formed in 2007, its members knew they could witness heartbreaking acts of animal neglect and cruelty, or help during emergency situations where animals are involved.
In the years since its formation, the volunteers of the team have taken training courses, visited other groups to learn new techniques, created a strong resource plan, and participated in helping animals during two major emergencies.
On Thursday, Sept. 23, the CART team's training was put to the test again as Patricia E. Gadaleta, owner of Musket Labradors in Franklin Township was arrested and charged with stealing a pair of purebred Labs from a breeder in Oregon.
Donna Crum, coordinator for Carbon CART, said that when she was called to the scene, a total of 104 dogs were being housed at the kennel, including the two stolen dogs that began the state police investigation.
The majority of the dogs appeared to be in decent health at the time, Crum noted.
As the days went by, volunteers from the Carbon, Schuylkill and Lehigh CART teams; area veterinarians Betsy Squires and Mary Lombardo; the Tamaqua Area Animal Rescue; and other agencies cared for and identified the animals and prepared them for transportation to rescue shelters.
"We were specifically there for the 104 dogs," Crum said. "The people who came forward were wonderful to take care of and treat the dogs."
She added that besides the volunteers, several area businesses donated food, drinks and other services to the people working to care for the dogs.
Charges also continued to mount against Gadaleta as more complaints from breeders in California, Michigan and Maryland were filed with the state police in Lehighton.
Crum said last week that Gadaleta's husband cooperated with the teams 100 percent, and that his main concern was safely removing the animals from the property.
As a result of the initial investigation, Franklin Township Police began its own investigation on the kennel. That investigation has since been turned over to the Pennsylvania SPCA and continues to date.
By Oct. 2, all animals had been removed from the property and taken to rescue shelters, where they are being cared for and will soon be put up for adoption.
"I am ecstatic that all the dogs have been removed from the property because it did not meet kennel guidelines and regulations," Crum said, adding that some of the dogs were developing sores on their paws from the wet conditions. "We're just glad we could get in there and take care of the dogs and get them off in the time frame that we did."
A list of adoption places that have the dogs is now available on the Carbon County Friends of Animals website at http://www.ccfoa.info . Adoption locations include the Animal Rescue League of Berks County, Hillside SPCA in Pottsville, Pike County SPCA and York County SPCA.
Crum said anyone interested in adopting one of these Labradors, or any shelter animal, can contact the above shelters. You will have to go through the adoption process designed by the shelter before the adoption could occur.
"We appreciate that citizens have come forward for the animals," Crum said in response of the hundreds of inquiries she received, "but there are 101 more dogs that are sitting in a shelter or rescue that need a loving home. If you don't get one of these dogs, think about adopting another shelter dog."
She also stated that this case shows that animal neglect or cruelty will not be tolerated.
"We hope other kennel owners realize that if they do cross the line from kennel to puppy mill, that they will be held accountable for it," Crum said. "Puppies aren't products. They are living, breathing animals that need to have love."
For more information on how to adopt one of these dogs, visit the CCFOA's website for full details.
For more information on the Carbon CART team, visit the group's Facebook page, keyword: Carbon CART or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org . Volunteers are always needed and welcome.