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Lancaster County man charged with animal cruelty after several wounded, neglected dogs are found on his Stevens property

John F. Esh, 32, is charged with two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, a misdemeanor count of animal neglect, and 25 related summary offenses.
Credit: FOX43

STEVENS, Pa. — A 32-year-old Lancaster County man has been charged with two felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals causing serious injury or death, a misdemeanor count of animal neglect and 25 related summary offenses stemming from a 2019 investigation by the Pennsylvania SPCA, court documents say.

John F. Esh, of Stevens, is accused of leaving wounded dogs neglected and locking others in uncleaned pens full of their own urine and feces.

The PSPCA, acting on a tip from a state dog warden, served a search warrant at Esh's Mount Airy Road home on March 14, 2019, according to a criminal complaint affidavit filed this week by PSPCA humane enforcement officer Jennifer Nields.

Investigators found numerous dogs of varying breeds suffering from various acts of neglect. Three dogs appeared to be suffering from wounds sustained in fighting, the complaint states, while 14 dogs were being kept in unsanitary conditions.

Esh allegedly admitted he owned all the dogs on the property, the complaint says.

Neilds said humane officers found one dog, a large English mastiff, lying in an enclosure. The dog would not respond to calls and was unable to put any weight on an injured paw, the complaint says. The dog was also leaking fluids from its ears, a sign of possible infection, the complaint states.

In another structure nearby, several dogs were found locked inside cages filled with "an excessive amount of feces," the complaint says. One of the dogs found was suffering from an untreated injury to its hind leg. 

Other dogs were found in similar conditions elsewhere on the property, according to the complaint. Several puppies were found without any kind of shelter. Their stomachs were bloated, a sign that they were suffering from a parasitic infection, the complaint says.

A female dog found on the property "had excessive amounts of scarring to her face along with more fresh, recent wounding,” the complaint says.

Esh was arraigned on the charges Thursday morning, court records show. He is free on $10,000 bail.

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