Gallitzin residents remain upset over death of dog

GALLITZIN – The seizure by police of an old dog from outside the house of its vacationing owners here July 30 – and the dog’s subsequent death at a Blair County shelter – have unleashed dismay in the borough and an investigation by the Cambria County District Attorney’s office.

“Favre” – named for the former Packers quarterback, but pronounced phonetically, as a joke – was a skinny, 15-year-old black Labrador-shepherd with hip dysplasia, according to owner Chris Myers.

Borough police Chief Gerald Hagen and Central Pennsylvania Humane Society humane officer Paul Gottshall came to the Myers’ house in response to a call from a “concerned citizen” worried about Favre’s “condition,” according to a society news release and other sources.

Next-door neighbor Jenny Wills, who was caring for Favre in the Myers’ absence, tried to stop them.

Saying it was emaciated and injured, they didn’t relent, even after she told them the dog was only old, so she phoned Myers, who was in Ohio for a few days, so she could talk to them, Wills said.

When Myers objected to what they were doing, Gottshall said Myers

couldn’t tell him what to do, to which Myers replied “this is a crock,” after which Gottshall “blew up,”

Myers said.

The dog’s “condition” led to its transport to the shelter, according to the society news release.

There, Favre received a medical examination, shelter, food, water and veterinary care, the release stated.

The Myers came home the next day, and Myers went to the shelter, where he was told he wasn’t getting the dog back, and if he didn’t leave, he’d be arrested, he said.

“I’m not leaving without my dog,” he said.

Six Logan Township officers then showed and told him he needed to leave and would have to work through his vet to get the dog back, he said.

His vet had no success in retrieving Favre, despite frequent attempts.

Then the following Monday, four days later, Myers met with an attorney.

But then, the dog had died, he learned.

“Sadly, the dog’s age and condition led to its passing,” the society news release stated.

Back at the Humane Society to claim the body, Myers heard from the society vet that the dog had been abused and neglected.

The vet cited a collar that had allegedly grown into Favre’s neck.

Myers took the body to his own vet, who contradicted that finding, Myers said.

Myers’ attorney, Paul Eckenrode, then filed private charges against Gottshall for criminal trespass, impersonating a police officer and theft by deception.

Gottshall isn’t licensed to operate in Cambria County, according to the charges.

The District Attorney’s office has rejected those private charges in favor of an investigation by one of its own detectives, Chief Deputy District Attorney Scott Lilly said.

“An attorney filing a criminal complaint for a client might possibly be biased, whereas a detective” would not be, Lilly said.

Nine days after the initial incident, borough police charged Wills with cruelty to animals.

“All I did was take care of the neighbors’ dog,” Wills said.

When she watched Favre, who liked being outdoors, the dog would sleep on the Myers’ porch at night, where he had water and food.

In the morning, Wills opened the porch gate, so he could go to the yard when he wanted.

Periodically, Favre came to Wills’ house for treats or to play with her dogs.

Otherwise, he never left the yard, she said.

Hagen didn’t return messages left by the Mirror.

On Saturday, borough residents gathered for “a friendly walk to prove that Chris and Renee have friends and Favre is deeply missed,” Wills said. “And what was done to him is wrong.”

“I’m not trying to be vindictive – I just want justice,” Myers said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.