The photos clearly show a dog that either wasn’t eating or wasn’t being fed – ribs visible, every bone easily felt by hand.
That was last summer. In the early weeks of 2020, Bruno is well on the road to recovery. The Labrador mix, now age 7, was at the center of an animal neglect case involving a Halifax-area couple.
That case was resolved last week in Dauphin County Court, as Judge Scott Evans imposed jail time and other penalties on both Jeffrey and Amber Levan.
Jeffrey, 52, has begun a term of at least three and no more than 12 months behind bars. Amber, 34, reportedly is to begin a similar sentence in the spring. (The fact the couple has children has been reported as a factor in the staggered incarcerations.)
Both must serve a year’s probation after their respective releases.
The Levans were formerly charged last August with cruelty to animals; animal neglect (veterinary care); and animal neglect (water and sustenance), all misdemeanors.
Each entered pleas of no contest to the allegations. The animal cruelty charge was subsequently withdrawn.
They also were ordered to pay court costs and $4,255 in restitution for Bruno’s care and feeding between the time charges were filed to the present day; the dog was removed from their possession after the case went to court.
Other media outlets have reported that Jeffrey is facing dismissal as a Highspire Borough police officer and that Amber’s employment with Dauphin County has been terminated.
‘He didn’t know what to do with himself at first’
After removal from the Levan residence, Bruno was placed in the foster care of Allison Eberly, representing One Dog At A Time, a Lewistown-based canine rescue initiative
. At 37.5 pounds, the pooch was about 20-30 pounds underweight. In addition to visible bones and a rib cage, Bruno’s body was peppered with sores and reeked so strongly of urine that it took several baths to mitigate.
The glistening coat so characteristic of Labs was dull and brittle, and skin was absent from the nose. ‘‘He was kept in a crate too small for him, and he constantly rubbed his face against it to get out,’’ said Eberly. “At my house, I had a larger crate to keep him in because of other dogs, but he still did it because he was so used to it.’’ Ironically, Bruno initially treated the new crate as a place of refuge, according to his foster owner.
‘‘He would pace around the house and was bothered by any loud noise; even any change in the inflection of my voice would scare him,’’ Eberly noted. ‘‘He didn’t know what to do with himself at first; if he was unsure, he would run to his crate. It was where he felt comfortable.’’
‘‘It took him awhile to accept any affection; I had to take it really slow in that area.’’
Eberly said she also had to strictly monitor Bruno’s eating schedule. ‘‘If I didn’t pay attention, he was constantly searching for food around the house.’’
‘‘If he ate too quickly, it could have given him a bloated stomach, which is dangerous,’’ she added. “I would feed him five small meals a day.’’
More recent photos show Bruno filled out, with a handsome coat and a joyful demeanor. ‘‘He’s a completely different dog – very happy and free-spirited,’’ Eberly said in a phone interview last week.
“He lays in bed with me and is constantly by my side; he likes playing with rubber balls.” (One photo shows Bruno floating in a swimming pool.)
One characteristic hasn’t changed. ‘‘If he had the opportunity, he would eat until he couldn’t eat any more,’’ Eberly said. Bruno eventually will be placed for adoption when deemed ready, both physically and emotionally.
‘‘He needs more socialization outside the home. SEE CANINE • PAGE A10