Lehigh Valley

Bethlehem Twp. animal rescue raided by SPCA

BETHLEHEM TWP., Pa. - The Pennsylvania SPCA executed a search warrant on a property in Bethlehem Township after a call of concern came in to the cruelty hotline, according to a SPCA spokeswoman.

The SPCA is in the process of seizing a large number of animals including four goats, three calves, four bulldogs, two huskies, a pig, and a number of cats from Heaven on Earth Farm, she says.

Another pig has been taken to an emergency veterinarian.

The spokeswoman said the warrants were executed Wednesday due to concerns of a lack of veterinary care and untreated medical conditions.

Deanna Stocker lives across from one of the properties and says she would visit often to help take care of the animals and thinks it’s a shame.

"He does care for them and he tries his best, it's just there's too many animals," Stocker said.

She says the owner considers Heaven on Earth a rescue farm and never turned away an animal which led to overcrowded conditions.

Stocker says the owner, Jahjah Melhem, lives alone and has been caring for the animals mostly by himself and over the past three years she says she watched the farm's animal count rise.

“When we first moved here it was more of a reasonable size, there were a lot less animals and they had enough space but when he kept on accepting more and more animals, they were crowded,” Stocker said.

The farm made headlines back in March when the Health Department said people got sick from feeding baby goats on the property.

That resulted in a lack of volunteers which just compounded the problem.

Stocker repeatedly said Melhem has good intentions and tried his best to care for the animals.

However, a former volunteer at the site called 69 News Wednesday and gave a different story saying the animals were underfed and did not get vet treatment.

Melhem does have a GoFundMe page set up to raise money for the animals' food expenses.

69 News was able to reach the owner of the farm on the phone but he said didn't want to comment.
It's not clear at this point if he faces any charges.

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