By Barbara Miller
Eleven canines, including three believed to be wolf-dog hybrids that are illegal to be kept as pets in Pennsylvania, were removed from the home of a Bentleyville man Wednesday morning by humane officers and State Game Commission conservation officers.
The ribs, vertebrae and hip bones of several of the animals were visible, and the claws of some were curling.
Fredrick Frameli of 160 Spring St. had to remain outside his ranch-style house while law enforcement officers were executing a search warrant. Once he was permitted to go back inside, he closed a side door that was kept open in an attempt to air the main floor, declining to answer a reporter’s shouted question. The white-haired Frameli was clad in a black T-shirt prominently bearing a picture of a wolf.
Abby Plumley, 21, a college student who lives nearby, watched the number of dogs being brought out. She has long known Frameli to have German shepherds.
“I’ve only seen three outside,” she said. “It just surprises me he’s had so many in there,” noting neither did she know some of the canines were apparently part wolf.
Three wolf-dogs, including two pups that recently came to the home, were purchased from a breeder near Cincinnati, Ohio, where they are legal, said Richard Joyce, state Game Commission wildlife conservation officer. The breeder agreed to take them back.
Joyce described the condition of many of the animals as “emaciated.”
“There was no readily available water for any of the animals at all where they were caged up,” he said. “They did not have any food out. There are bags of food in the house.”
The dogs ranged in age from about 13 weeks to 7 years.
The majority were caged in the basement and four were upstairs, where a lankier pup and a small black puppy were sharing one cage.
A big, black adult dog with patches of white fur on its paws came from a humane society in Jefferson County, Ohio. Joyce said its paperwork listed it as a German shepherd.
Joyce said Frameli was “cooperative,” and he described him as “a buyer and a keeper” of the canines he surrendered to the officers. Joyce plans to file charges, yet to be determined, with District Judge Curtis Thompson in connection with the importation of the wolf hybrids. Joyce said DNA testing would be done on the suspected hybrids to determine their parentage.
Urns containing cremated remains of 10 pets were inside the home, which Deputy Wildlife Conservation Officer Heather Flanegan said reeked of urine. She had at her side Lucy, a leashed German shepherd pup.
Bentleyville Mayor Tom Brown, who lives about a block away from 160 Spring St., said the borough became aware of a complaint last week about mistreatment of the animals, sparking the investigation by Washington Area Humane Society.
“It’s their bailiwick,” Brown said. “Our police officer is just assisting. I hope those dogs are taken care of. I’m glad someone had the fortitude to make a phone call or take a video. I had no idea.”
Julie Froats, who was on Spring Street as part of Char-Wills German Shepherd Rescue based in New Ringgold, Schuylkill County, put sheets over cages of barking dogs temporarily placed outdoors to reduce their stress levels.
While domestic dogs descended thousands of years ago from wolves, Joyce said of wolf-dog hybrids, “It generally never works out.”
He encountered one kept as a pet in North Franklin Township 13 to 14 years ago. “It was fine until it was running around with a Yorkie hanging out of its mouth,” he said. “When they reach sexual maturity, they want to be the alpha dog,” and the hybrids will dominate whoever or whatever stands in their way.
The animals were being kept Wednesday afternoon at Washington Area Humane Society in Eighty Four, said Kelly Proudfit, executive director, where all were being evaluated by a veterinarian. She called their condition “skinny and dehydrated.” Proudfit expects those without wolf bloodlines to eventually be placed in foster homes and be made available for adoption.