Alpaca rescued from Centre County Property

PSPCA removes 118 animals from property in Aaronsburg, Centre County moved from Heaven and Earth Rescue in Northampton County

PSPCA executes search warrant in Centre County at property where animals belonging to Jahjah Melhem were housed


Philadelphia, PA (December 19, 2018) – The Pennsylvania SPCA executed a search warrant on Tuesday, December 18, 2018 at a property in Centre County where Jahjah Melhem was housing animals moved from the now defunct Heaven on Earth Rescue in Northampton County.


The Pennsylvania SPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement Officers removed 118 animals including 30 chickens, 22 sheep, 17 goats, 12 ducks, 11 geese, 7 mini horses, 4 mini donkeys, 3 potbellied pigs, 4 turkeys, 4 peacocks, an Alpaca and more.


The search warrant was executed over concern for the welfare of animals due to the large number in violation of an existing court order. In August, a judge ordered Melhem to limit his number of animals to under 100 and provided the Pennsylvania SPCA with inspection rights.


It was nearly one year ago that the PSPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement department, acting on tips from concerned volunteers and citizens, executed a search warrant at the Heaven on Earth Animal Sanctuary in Northampton County. That day, two blind Alaskan malamute dogs covered in burrs from head to toe, three goats unable to stand due to foot rot, and many underweight animals were among the 30 seized from the property.


The PSPCA returned to that property, and one adjoining on numerous occasions throughout 2018, seizing many additional animals. After Melhem was evicted from that property, the remaining animals were moved to the Aaronsburg, Centre County property, where the PSPCA executed a search warrant yesterday.


Thus far, the PSPCA has filed 47 criminal charges, including 2 felony charges, against Melhem. Melhem was arraigned yesterday, and released on $5,000 bail. 


“After visiting the many properties of Melhem over the past year, the one constant has been the concerns for the welfare of the animals in his care,” said Nicole Wilson, the PSPCA’s Director of Humane Law Enforcement. “When we first executed a search warrant in Northampton in December of 2017, we knew that the battle to save these animals would be a long one. A year later, it is ongoing, but until every last animal is safe, our Humane Law Enforcement efforts will not cease.”


The investigation is ongoing, and charges are pending the conclusion of the full investigation.


Anyone with information about this case, or other cases involving animal cruelty, is urged to call the Pennsylvania SPCA’s Cruelty Hotline at (866) 601-SPCA. Tips can be left anonymously.


To learn more and help,


About the Pennsylvania SPCA

Since 1867, the Pennsylvania SPCA, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization headquartered at 350 East Erie Avenue, Philadelphia, has been dedicated to preventing animal cruelty and rescuing animals from abuse and neglect. The Pennsylvania SPCA's lifesaving programs for animals include a low-cost veterinary clinic, low-cost spay and neuter services, pet adoption facilities, and the Pennsylvania SPCA Humane Law Enforcement Department. For more information about adopting, donating or volunteering, please call (215) 426.6300 or visit