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Tip on illegal ear cropping in Lebanon County leads to animal cruelty charges

Steven M. Alston, 38, is charged with a total of 18 counts of animal cruelty which includes 14 felony counts, 2 misdemeanors, and 2 summary counts.
Credit: Pennsylvania SPCA

LEBANON, Pa. — A man is facing numerous animal cruelty charges after 34 dogs and puppies were seized following a tip regarding illegal ear cropping and tail docking in Lebanon County. Investigators also found two horses and two calves living in unsanitary conditions.

Steven M. Alston, 38, is charged with a total of 18 counts of animal cruelty which includes 14 felony counts, 2 misdemeanors, and 2 summary counts.

Alston was arraigned Thursday and taken to the Lebanon County Correctional Facility in lieu of $50,000 bail, according to online court documents.

On Oct. 1, the Pennsylvania SPCA rescued 34 dogs and puppies from Alston's property, according to a news release. During the investigation, PSPCA found many animals suffering from untreated medical conditions and sanitation issues. The PSPCA said some of the dogs had untreated wounds, some containing maggots. 

Alston is accused of cutting the ears of 7 puppies with scissors without anesthesia and for the prolonged suffering of a German Shepherd who was found in extremely critical condition with severe, necrotic wounds left untreated, the PSPCA said. 

“This case of animal cruelty was particularly jarring,” said Nicole Wilson, Director of Humane Law Enforcement at the PSPCA. “To find a dog at death’s door and subsequently brought back to life shows the dedication of our staff. We are grateful to take this step in bringing the abuser to justice in an effort to ensure no other animals ever meet the same fate. The next step is through the courts to ensure that he is never allowed to own another animal.”

When investigators went to serve an arrest warrant on Thursday at Alston's home, they found two horses and 2 calves living in unsanitary conditions.  The horses lacked food, water and bedding, according to the PSPCA.

They were surrendered to the Pennsylvania SPCA and transported to the organization’s Central Pennsylvania Center located in Danville for medical evaluation and treatment.

Of the 34 dogs removed from the property, all have been surrendered to the Pennsylvania SPCA with the exception of two, which remain at shelter under protective custody. Of those who have recovered medically, many have already been adopted.

Anyone with information about this case or other cases involving animal cruelty, is urged to call the Pennsylvania SPCA’s Cruelty Hotline at (866) 601-SPCA. Tips can be left anonymously.