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Prison for Hopewell Twp. man whose dogs ran loose, killed livestock

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
Paul Leahy in a 2019 York County Prison mugshot.

A Hopewell Township man with a history of animal neglect and dangerous-dog charges must spend at least three months in prison and could lose one of his dogs if it is caught running loose again.

Paul Michael Leahy, 65, of the 4300 block of Hess Road, was ordered to report to York County Prison on Jan. 27, according to court records.

He appeared in York County Court on Monday, Jan. 6, and pleaded no contest to charges in three cases, records state.

Defendants who plead no contest, or nolo contendere, are not admitting guilt. Rather, they are saying they will not contest the charges against them. A no-contest plea has the same effect as a guilty plea.

He pleaded no contest to resisting arrest in the case that netted him a three- to 23-month prison sentence, defense attorney Scott Harper confirmed. Police said Leahy was arrested for impeding a search of his property.

In a second case, he was sentenced to a concurrent one to 12 months in prison for unlawful operation of a kennel, the attorney said.

After those sentences are finished, Leahy will be on intensive probation for a year for allowing his dogs to run loose, which was the third case to which he pleaded no contest on Monday.

Harper noted that although dangerous-dog charges had been filed against Leahy in the past, none of his animals were found to be dangerous. Leahy still has his dogs, the attorney confirmed.

The sentencing agreement requires Leahy to forfeit ownership of Nova, one of his German shepherds, if she is found running loose again while he is on probation, according to Harper.

More:Neighbor: Leahy's dogs killed baby goat, chickens, pheasants

More:Hopewell Twp. man, focus of dog wardens, tased twice and locked up

More:York County trio first in state ordered to reimburse animal rescue for costs of care

'Mentally unstable': Leahy was most recently arrested March 15 by state police after he became irate with state dog wardens and troopers searching his home, according to court documents.

Heather Brett Harris of Hopewell Twp. said neighbor Paul Leahy's dogs keep getting loose and killing her livestock.

Four dog wardens and two state troopers went to Leahy's home about 10:20 a.m. March 15 so the wardens could search the property.

The wardens were investigating dog-law violations and had requested state police assistance with Leahy because "they knew him to be mentally unstable and (to) display unpredictable behaviors when confronted by law enforcement," court documents state.

He was twice charged in the past with threatening local animal-control officers. Both times, those charges were reduced to summary nontraffic offenses.

Leahy screamed at the officers and dog wardens and eventually blocked them from doing any more searching, police said.

He "squared up his body posture and took a defensive stance" toward a trooper, then took a step toward the trooper, documents state.

Heather Brett Harris of Hopewell Twp. said one of her trail cameras caught two of neighbor Paul Leahy's dogs killing her chickens and baby pygmy goat on April 9, 2018.

A trooper shocked Leahy twice with a Taser because Leahy resisted arrest, police said.

The background: Leahy has pleaded guilty to previous dog-law violations, including charges filed after Nova and Miss Kitty, who is another of Leahy's German shepherds, ran loose and killed livestock owned by neighbors.

Neighbor Heather Brett Harris had a number of her animals killed by the dogs, which tore through fencing on her property and, eventually, showed aggression toward her, she has said.

She said the dogs have come onto her property and tried to kill animals several times, and that the three or more verbal warnings she and her husband gave to Leahy went unheeded.

Heather Brett Harris said about 20 of her chickens were killed in two separate dog attacks. She said the dogs responsible are owned by neighbor Paul Leahy of Hopewell Twp.

Harris said Leahy's dogs killed her 8-week-old baby goat, a pair of golden pheasants and two dozen chickens.

Leahy, his girlfriend and her mother were the first people in the state to be ordered to reimburse an animal shelter for costs of care, after the shelter held a number of their animals and pets that had been seized for neglect — including an emaciated horse named Reba

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

Heather Brett Harris said one of her trail cameras caught two of neighbor Paul Leahy's dogs killing her chickens and baby pygmy goat on April 9, 2018.