Charges withdrawn against woman accused of neglecting dogs in Parks Township

October 13, 2018

Summary charges were withdrawn against a Parks Township woman who was accused of mistreating more than a dozen dogs.

But a dog advocate group is asking people to petition the Armstrong County District Attorney to file stiffer charges against former dog breeder Dawn Swick now that the summary charges were withdrawn.

Attempts to reach Swick were unsuccessful. Her attorney, Greg Swank, said Monday he would have to review the case file before commenting.

Last February, former county humane Officer Penny DeWoehrl filed three summary charges against Swick and confiscated the dogs.

Those animals, Shiloh shepherds, a larger and friendly German shepherd with longer hair, were removed and taken to veterinarians or others who could temporarily care for them. Three other dogs didn’t need medical care, officials said.

DeWoehrl resigned as Armstrong County’s dog officer in August. Months earlier, District Attorney Katie Charlton filed a court petition to decertify DeWoehrl as an animal control officer.

Charlton said she has carefully reviewed the charges against Swick.

“I take the conditions under which the animals in Ms. Swick’s home were alleged to have been found in very seriously,” Charlton said.

“Unfortunately, the actions taken by Ms. DeWoehrl in Ms. Swick’s case severely hamper my ability to prosecute the case against Ms. Swick at this juncture,” Charlton said. She would not comment further on her reasons for withdrawing the charges.

She said her office will be “working diligently with local groups and law enforcement to create a process for Armstrong County wherein appropriate charges will be filed in the future for all animal cruelty cases and in a manner in which my office can effectively prosecute said cases.”

On Monday, an online animal advocate group continued to asked people to urge Charlton to file tougher charges against Swick.

Rescue Watch founder Libby Williams urged supporters to write letters to Charlton, calling on her to have county detectives do their own investigation and file more serious charges against Swick.

The nonprofit International Shiloh Shepard Club has been collecting money to help pay for the care of the dogs.