- The owner of over 50 animals found in an outbuilding on Belmont Street in Waymart has been charged.

Keith Stoddard, 37, of Waymart has been charged with eight counts of animal cruelty, according to Pennsylvania Humane Society Officer Marlene Metzger.

"The charges will be for animal cruelty," she said.

Stoddard will also be facing 85 citations from Wayne and Pike County Dog Warden Jim Rickert.

"He will be filing 42 citations for failure to have the dogs licensed, 42 charges for the dogs not having rabies vaccinations and one citation for operating an illegal kennel," Metzger said.

According to the Pennsylvania Dog Law, failure to properly license a dog is a summary offense and, upon conviction, the violator "shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than $50 nor more than $300 for each unlicensed dog."

The Rabies Prevention and Control in Domestic Animals and Wildlife Act also details the penalty associated with the 42 charges for failure to vaccinate.

This act states that for each violation, also a summary offense, has "a fine not exceeding $300 for each violation." The act also adds that each day of violation "shall constitute a separate offense."

Stoddard was also charged with one count of illegally operating a kennel. Kennels in Pennsylvania must be licensed by the state to operate legally. In order to be licensed, the potential kennel must be inspected by a dog warden and approved.

Operating an illegal is considered a violation and "the secretary may assess a civil penalty" in addition to other penalties "against an unlicensed kennel of not less than $500 nor more than $1,000 for each day it operated in violation of this act."

The amount of the penalty is contingent upon the "gravity and willfulness" of the violation, potential health and safety of both the animals and the public, previous violations and the economic benefit to the violator for failing to comply with state law.

Of the original dogs, dubbed the Waymart 55, only seven are left at the shelter. Out of those seven, two are in the process of being fostered out.

Dessin Animal Shelter happily reports that the dogs are responding well to leash and collar training and are adjusting well to their new environment.

Authorities were alerted to the situation after neighbors reported complaints of barking to the Waymart Police Department on Sept. 6.

The dogs were discovered living in an outbuilding on the property of Stoddard and had no socialization skills.

Ten deceased puppies were found in the building, and many of the dogs are suffering from a skin condition that ranges from minor to severe.

Fundraiser Sunday

To continue to help all 55 rescued pooches, a fundraiser is being held this Sunday, Sept. 15 in the parking lot of the Viewmont Mall.

“I was beyond touched by his generosity,” said Dara Coslett Granza in a release. “Mario Bevilacqua, and his co-owner, fiancé, Katie Graziosi, have donated to Dessin, in the past, in cooperation with Chef Michael’s dog food. And he took the time, on a Sunday, to check in with us and immediately started talking about hosting a fundraiser to aid in the care of the recovered animals – and all our animals at Dessin.”

The fundraiser will be held at the What the Fork Food Truck between 11:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday in the parking lot of the Viewmont Mall in Dickson City. A portion of the sales of the fundraiser will be donated to the Dessin Animal Shelter.

Bevilacqua also wants to raise awareness about animal cruelty and hoarding. Some of the rescued puppies will visit the truck from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday. Coslett Granza added that it will be a little while until the spunky pups will be available for adoption.

She added that, “without fundraisers like Sunday’s and supporters like Bevilacqua, Dessin couldn’t get by.”

The shelter is also still in need of various items. At the top of that list are cleaning supplies like bleach and laundry detergent, paper towels and rawhide.

Questions about the “Forking Amazing Fundraiser” can be directed to (570) 647-0620.

If you are unable to attend and would like to securely donate online, via PayPal, visit the “Donate” page at www.DessinShelter.com or stop by the shelter at 138 Miller Dr., Honesdale, during business hours.

What the Fork Truck’s daily menu is posted on their facebook page at www.facebook.com/WTForktruck.