Dog breeder sentenced to month in prison on animal cruelty charges

By Patrick Kernan - [email protected]

WILKES-BARRE — A Wapwallopen man will be doing prison time for his role in a cruelty to animals case after he pleaded guilty to charges against him in late August.

John Dancho, 71, was sentenced to a month behind bars followed by three years in the state Intermediate Punishment Program by Luzerne County Judge Joseph F. Sklarosky Jr. He’ll also be forced to pay a $50 fine.

In late August, court records show, Dancho pleaded guilty to a felony count of aggravated cruelty to animals, along with a misdemeanor count and a summary count of neglect of animals.

Dancho was charged along with his girlfriend, Michele Starkey, 56, were charged earlier this year with over a hundred total counts stemming from allegations they kept numerous dogs outside their Conyngham Township home in the extreme cold of December 2017 and this January.

The pair are accused of keeping a total of eight German Shorthaired Pointer puppies about five weeks old, two adult German Shorthaired Pointers and nine adult Shih Tzus in deplorable conditions.

A humane officer with the SCPA of Luzerne County investigated the home in January, and allegedly found some of the dogs covered in their own urine and feces. The dogs had no food, and their water had turned to ice in the frigid 5-degree weather, leaving the dogs to have to lick the ice for water.

Most of the charges against the couple were withdrawn by prosecutors at their preliminary hearing in July.

Dancho’s daughter, Amanda Michele Dancho, was also charged, but all charges against her were later withdrawn.

Sklarosky ordered Dancho, who had been out on $50,000 unsecured bail since shortly after his arrest, to report to prison Friday morning. He will be on house arrest for four months after his release from prison, being tracked by an electronic monitor. He is also ordered to own no animals.

Starkey, meanwhile, is still facing a misdemeanor and a summary count of neglect of animals. She’s currently scheduled to appear in court Monday.

By Patrick Kernan

[email protected]

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter