More than 80 animals seized from Hopewell Twp. property, citations filed

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

Editor's note: This article was originally published March 12, 2014.

Authorities in February 2014 seized 84 animals from a Hopewell Township property including horses, dogs and chickens and have cited the home's three residents with 31 counts each of summary animal cruelty for allegedly neglecting the animals' welfare.

Paul Leahy, 59, of 4389 Hess Road, also is facing an extra citation for allegedly harassing a humane police officer who was trying to remove an emaciated horse from his home, according to court records.

Reba was one of more than 80 animals seized from the Hopewell Twp. property of Paul Leahy in February 2014.

The other two residents cited with animal cruelty are Melissa Ann Brodbeck, 32, and her mother, 66-year-old Barbara Brodbeck, court records state.

The seized animals include 11 horses, a donkey, 13 dogs, two pot-bellied pigs, 15 chickens, 35 chicken peeps, two exotic birds and two cats, according to Humane Society Police Officer Ame Kessler, who runs Aglyphic Creatures Rescue.

Kessler said she first went to Leahy's home — a farmhouse with a small barn and several outbuildings — on Feb. 19, 2014, and seized Reba, an emaciated quarter horse suffering from lice, dermatitis, a secondary skin infection and bite wounds.

Search warrant: Kessler said she returned to Leahy's home Feb. 28, 2014, with a search warrant and a team of rescuers that included the York County Sheriff's Office's criminal response unit, Humane Society Police Officer Ron Hollister, a number of volunteers and Phoenix Animal Rescue in Chester County.

It took the team six hours to remove all the animals, according to Kessler, who said she felt all the animals needed to be seized for their protection.

"The conditions the animals were living in was appalling," she said.

Deputy prosecutor Jeff Rigby said he expects to ask for prison time for Leahy and that he be prohibited from owning animals in the future.

Leahy's attorney, Scott Harper, could not immediately be reached for comment.

But Leahy spoke with The York Dispatch and denied the allegations.

Paul Leahy

'Nothing to hide': "I don't abuse animals," he said. "I have nothing to hide. I've been taking care of animals my whole life."

Leahy said he's being harassed by authorities, and that a disgruntled worker he fired made the initial complaint against him.

He said Reba is a rescue horse.

"When she came here she was lame and ... kind of borderline, weight-wise," he said. "The other horses were all in excellent health."

The allegations: But Kessler said the animals seized were neglected.

"Some animals were underweight, some appeared healthy," she said. "But looks can be deceiving."

The citations include allegations that Leahy and the Brodbecks allowed the animals to live in unsanitary and unsafe conditions, and that some of the animals lacked proper food, water, shelter, sustenance or veterinary care.

All the dogs required veterinary care, Kessler said, and many of the seized animals remain in quarantine.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.