West Pike Run police chief faces animal cruelty charge

March 6, 2013
Etalia, a 11/2-year-old rottweiler, is shown after being seized from the basement of the home of West Pike Run Township police Chief Michael Hardesty, who faces a charge of animal cruelty. - Photo courtesy of Washington Area Humane Society

The chief of the West Pike Run Township police department was charged Tuesday by the Washington Area Humane Society humane officer with cruelty to animals after his 1 1/2-year-old rottweiler was found emaciated in the basement of his North Bethlehem Township home last month.

The female, Etalia, weighed 58 pounds when she was taken from the home of Michael Hardesty, National Pike (Route 40), in North Bethlehem Township by Officer Logan Wade, said Kelly Backo, humane society general manager. The humane officer was checking on the dog after the humane society received a tip about the animal being neglected.

“The dog was seized because she was found living in her own feces without adequate food or water,” Backo said. “She was taken to a veterinarian that day who determined the dog was severely malnourished and dehydrated. She also suffered from a lack of exercise, food, water and medical care.

“She weighed 58 pounds when a dog of her age and breed should weigh 85 to 90 pounds,” the manager added.

Etalia also had tartar on her teeth and a waxy discharge coming from her ears.

The dog is living with a foster family until it can be returned to a healthy weight.

“She is being fed a small amount of watered-down, canned dog food several times a day,” Backo said, adding the dog cannot handle a normal feeding. “That could result in her death.”

Backo said Etalia is slowly improving thanks to the foster family that is providing her with 24-hour care.

Hardesty has not agreed to sign Etalia over to the humane society, which will have to go to court to take ownership of the rottweiler.

“Once we become her legal owner, it will be months before she is in a condition that she can be adopted,” Backo said. “She is a wonderful dog, very affectionate. Her resiliency is amazing.”

The charge was filed at the office of District Judge Curtis Thompson. Hardesty can either plead guilty to the charge or request a hearing.

Messages were left Wednesday afternoon for Hardesty at the township office and police department. No home telephone listing could be found. Richard Molish, chairman of the West Pike Run board of supervisors, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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