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A Lebanon man pleaded guilty last month to 16 counts of animal cruelty.

Steve Alston was charged after the Pennsylvania SPCA removed 34 dogs from Alston’s property in October 2020, the PSPCA noted in a release. Alston entered a guilty plea on Jan. 19.

According to the release from PSPCA director of public relations Gillian Kocher, charges included 14 felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals. The felony charges arose after the PSPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement team received a tip regarding illegal ear cropping and tail docking of puppies.

Humane Law officers visited Alston’s property and found “acts of cruelty including animals suffering from untreated medical conditions and sanitation issues,” the release stated. “Among the medical concerns were untreated infected wounds, some containing maggots, as well as very thin body conditions of a number of the animals.”

According to the release, Alston cut the ears of seven Presa Canario-type puppies with scissors without using anesthesia. He also caused the prolonged suffering of a German shepherd, who was found in extremely critical condition with severe, necrotic wounds that had been left untreated, and he did not treat injuries on three dogs that led to their deaths.

Alston also pleaded guilty of one misdemeanor count for cruelty to animals, and one misdemeanor count for neglect of animals – lack of veterinary care.

Judge John C. Tylwalk accepted the plea in January. Tylwalk sentenced Alston to a minimum of six months and maximum of 23 months of incarceration, followed by two years of probation.

Alston also is prohibited from owning, possessing or caring for animals during this period of supervision. He was ordered to pay fines and restitution, and he will be subject to random inspections of his property by Humane Law Enforcement officers after his release.

The PSPCA said all living animals that were rescued from Alston’s property – including the German shepherd, named Sway – made full recoveries and were placed in new homes.

“The suffering of these animals was apparent from their bloodied and infected ears, to Sway who was clinging to life,” said Nicole Wilson, the PSPCA’s director of Humane Law Enforcement. “We are proud to not only bring justice to these innocent souls, but to put them on the path to a bright future where they will never again be victims of such horrific acts.”

Anyone with information about this or other cases involving animal cruelty is urged to call the PSPCA’s Cruelty Hotline at (866) 601-SPCA. Tips can be left anonymously. For more information about adopting, donating or volunteering with the PSPCA, call (215) 426.6300 or visit pspca.org.

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Tom Knapp

Tom has been a professional journalist for nearly four decades. In his spare time, he plays fiddle with the Irish band Fire in the Glen, and he reviews music, books and movies for Rambles.NET. He lives with his wife, Michelle, and has four children: Vinnie, Molly, Annabelle and Wolf.