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Convicted Animal Abuser Has Long Criminal Record

MOOSIC — John Tanis, of Moosic, was convicted of five animal cruelty charges Tuesday in Lackawanna County Court and now faces the possibility of years beh...

MOOSIC -- John Tanis, of Moosic, was convicted of five animal cruelty charges Tuesday in Lackawanna County Court and now faces the possibility of years behind bars.

A jury found Tanis had neglected dogs at his property in Moosic.

Tanis said he has been harassed for years.

Newswatch 16 spoke with Tanis at his home in 2013 after police and an animal cruelty officer responded to complaints. They asked him then to surrender his animals. He refused.

When asked then if he had ever abused an animal, Tanis said, "No, never. I've stopped my car in the middle of the road to pick up a turtle and bring a turtle to the side of the road."

Tanis' criminal record includes more than 300 charges including weapons and animal cruelty in Lackawanna and Wyoming counties in the Keystone State.

He has been accused of running an illegal puppy mill. He has pleaded guilty to illegal possession of a submachine gun, more than 100 other firearms, and other weapon parts.

FBI agents said Tanis was convicted of unlawful weapons possession in New Jersey, too.

Tanis said he has done nothing wrong despite all the charges, the time spent in and out of jail, and despite the recent conviction.

Last year, he showed Newswatch 16 records including dog licenses and vaccinations for the adult dogs on his property, which he says were being cared for.

Tanis has often been seen wearing religious garb.

Tanis says he is a member of The Saints of Beersheba, a church and humane society based in Tunkhannock, Wyoming County.

He has also said the dogs actually belong to the church and were being trained to be therapy dogs.

"The dogs are being kept in the best conditions that they can possibly be kept in, that they're all healthy. If they're not healthy, we're trying to get it help," he said in 2013.

Tanis' home in Moosic has been condemned and a judge said he will remain in prison until he has somewhere else to live.

To view more of our coverage of John Tanis, click here.