Summit man charged with cruelty, neglect in state police animal probe

Summit man charged with cruelty, neglect in state police animal probe

It started with a video showing a beagle puppy that investigators believe was feeding off another deceased puppy in its kennel.

It led to a discussion with the person who shot the video, a man who said he was hired a few days earlier to care for animals on the Summit Township farm but shot the video because he was “disgusted and saddened by the conditions,” according to the Pennsylvania State Police.

Initial report:57 dogs among 223 animals seized from Summit Township farm in cruelty probe

Given consent to search the property, troopers said they observed puppies that appeared to be starving confined to kennels on a feces-caked barn floor.

They said they found a burn pile with a dead puppy on top, and the skulls of other suspected dogs in it.

The investigation on Oct. 8 into the conditions at the farm at 7671 Edinboro Road would lead to the seizure of hundreds of domestic and farm animals, as well as the discovery of remains from many other animals.

On Monday, it led to the filing of a long list of criminal charges against the person accused of owning the animals.

The defendant, 49-year-old Gregory S. Havican, is free on $150,000 unsecured bond following his arraignment late Monday afternoon on 163 criminal charges.

According to Havican’s online court docket sheet, he faces:

  • 78 third-degree felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals-causing significant bodily injury or death.
  • One third-degree felony count of aggravated cruelty to animals-torture.
  • 19 third-degree misdemeanor counts of neglect of animals-veterinary care.
  • 65 summary counts of neglect of animals-shelter/protection.

Havican could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday morning. A lawyer for him was not listed on his online court docket sheet.

‘Awful living conditions’

The charges cap a lengthy investigation by the Pennsylvania State Police that was launched on Oct. 8, when troopers received a video that purportedly showed numerous animals living in poor conditions on the farm.

Investigators said Havican lives on the property, but it is owned by Havican’s aunt and the woman’s sister, according to information in his criminal complaint.

In addition to the live and deceased beagle puppies, the video also showed another kennel-run area with a deceased puppy’s legs coming out of the dog house; and many animals, including dogs, pigs, chickens, pigeons and ducks in “awful living conditions,” the trooper who filed the charges against Havican wrote in the affidavit filed with Havican’s criminal complaint.

The conditions included mold, an abundance of feces and urine, black water, or no water at all, the trooper wrote in the affidavit.

State police said they tracked down the man who shot the video and were told he had worked at the farm for a few days. The man said Havican had instructed him to give half a scoop of food per four puppies, according to the affidavit.

The man also told troopers where to find a burn pile where he was instructed to dispose of deceased puppies.

Later that day on Oct. 8, Havican guided troopers through the barn on the property where the puppies were housed. The charging trooper wrote that she observed “disgusting conditions,” with puppies left in kennels with no means to go outside, barn wood caked in feces and an overpowering smell of feces and urine.

She wrote that puppies were jumping and screaming as troopers checked on their well-being, and that puppies that appeared to be “hungry and starving” nipped and sucked on her fingers.

After applying for a search warrant for the property and contacting the A.N.N.A. Shelter in Erie, troopers found bones and several suspected canine skulls in the burn pit and a bag containing a dead dog, according to information in the affidavit.

Authorities seized 223 living animals and 20 dead animals during the search, which continued into the early morning of Oct. 9. The live animals were placed in the care of the A.N.N.A. Shelter, state police reported previously.

A second search of the property was done on Oct. 27 and 17 animals were seized, including a chicken, pigs, sheep, and goats, according to the affidavit.

More:Donations needed as animals are treated, state police investigate cruelty case at Summit farm

The seized animals included dogs with muscle loss, fleas, mange and other issues; goats suffering from extreme neglect; a pig that had died of pneumonia; chickens whose deaths were linked to starvation; and ducks with lice and mites, according to information in the affidavit.

A.N.N.A. Shelter officials said after the first search of the property on Oct. 8 that 57 dogs, mostly puppies, were seized.

Updated information on all of the seized animals was not immediately available Tuesday morning.

Contact Tim Hahn at Follow him on Twitter @ETNhahn.

Summit man charged with cruelty, neglect in state police animal probe

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