Three Valley rescued Great Danes find new home

Renatta Signorini
| Friday, Sept. 9, 2011

Three Great Danes have a new home and owners who enjoy watching them bound around like deer.

"I've gotten so attached to those three," said Rich Kohl, who operates Gentle Ben's Giant Breed Rescue with his wife Noreen Kohl in Zelienople.

The Kohls will be able to keep the three dogs as pets as part of an agreement with Barbara L. Grey, 50. Humane officers removed 12 Great Danes -- three dead and the remaining nine emaciated and in need of medical attention -- from a residence belonging to Grey and she was charged by police in March with animal cruelty.

Grey was accepted into the county's Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program on Thursday for one year. She agreed to relinquish ownership of the nine dogs and pay $3,057 in restitution to the Kohls.

A defendant who participates in the ARD program can earn a dismissal of charges if the program stipulations are followed.

The 12 dogs were removed from a Yockey Road, Valley home in March by Penny Dewoehrl, president, humane officer and cruelty investigators for All American Ponies Inc., of Parker, a nonprofit organization that protects animals from abuse and neglect.

State police, following up on a 911 hang-up call at the residence, found the dogs living in deplorable condition and called humane officers to investigate. Police have said the call occurred because of poor weather conditions and the owner was not at home.

Grey was charged March 10 with 11 summary offenses of cruelty to animals and three misdemeanors of the same charge. Her attorney declined to comment yesterday.

According to court documents, Grey is accused of willfully withholding food and water from three of the Great Danes knowing that it would cause them to starve to death.

Grey then stored the dead dogs in the bed of a pickup which was parked behind her home, police said in a criminal complaint.

The complaint said Grey did not feed, water or give veterinary care to the nine surviving dogs.

The Kohls have been fostering mother Angie and her daughters Gabby and Monster since March. All three are doing well and have gained at least 30 pounds each, said Noreen Kohl.

"I think they were just so happy to be in a clean place with food and water," she said.

And they have friends -- about 35 large dogs reside at Gentle Ben's Giant Breed Rescue, the Kohls said, some waiting for homes and others are pets. The Kohls were contacted by Dewoehrl and the couple volunteered their time and space for three of the Great Danes.

"They immediately bonded to me," Rich Kohl recalled.

The couple said the dogs were well-mannered, housebroken and understood commands.

"It seemed like at one point they were well-loved," Noreen Kohl said, adding that because the three Great Danes had each other, they adjusted well to life at the rescue.

"From the beginning, they're just confident dogs," Rich Kohl said. "They're three very smart dogs."

It was unclear from court proceedings of the whereabouts of the remaining six dogs. They were transported to a veterinarian after being seized from the home and Dewoehrl said in late March that all nine had been placed in foster homes scattered around the Pittsburgh area.

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