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Spring Grove couple's sentence outrages dog breeder

Published: Thursday, June 6, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

WOODSTOCK – A Pennsylvania breeder, who said she was fooled by a former Spring Grove couple charged when 17 neglected and malnourished Great Danes were found in their home, said she was disappointed at their sentence.

Charges against Sal Messina were dropped May 29, and his wife, Patricia, was ordered to be on probation through February. She must undergo a psychiatric evaluation. The couple can have no more than five animals at their home, and Animal Control will perform monthly inspections. A 30-day jail sentence is stayed upon successful completion of these terms.

Susan Fioravanti-Weaver of Erie, Pa., received four of the ill dogs after a court battle proved her ownership. She met the Messinas through the dog breeding community and had given the Messinas a Great Dane to deliver puppies. She never suspected that her dogs weren’t being cared for, she said.

“We’re put here to be these dogs’ voice,” Weaver said. “This is all they have. They cannot talk, and they cannot tell you what really went on. We’re the only ones that can help them.

“The way I see it, there wasn’t any justice served here at all.”

The Messinas were charged in September with 17 misdemeanor counts of violating the Humane Care for Animals Act. Authorities at the time said they found 17 malnourished and dehydrated dogs. An inventory of the dogs showed they weighed between 32.7 and 180 pounds.

A number of the dogs went to Scott Rood, director of the Woodstock-based Great Dane Rescue Midwest. He said the dogs were covered in sores from lying in feces and were “walking skeletons.”

He called the sentence “a mistake” and “not fair to the dogs.” He hoped for a harsher punishment.

“When I received those dogs, [the veterinarian] didn’t expect several of them to make it through the night,” Rood said.

All the dogs formerly in his care have been placed and are doing well, he said.

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