No one from the Perkiomenville S.P.C.A. was prepared for the phone call they received on August 20 of 2009.ˆ Each week, Chris Langiotti, shelter manager for the Montgomery County S.P.C.A., which includes the Perkiomenville branch, and his staff receive calls regarding animal abuse cases, animal abandonment and lost pets.
But this call was different.
'We received a call that a current resident of Pottstown and home owner ' for whatever reason ' had tried to commit suicide and had attempted to poison her pets, as well,' explained Chris.ˆ 'She knew that if she passed away, her pets would more than likely be euthanized if they were not able to be adopted out, so she chose to poison them so they could 'all be together on the other side'.'
Chris and Shannon Roese, the 'everything girl,' at the Perkiomenville S.P.C.A. ' a title that includes veterinary technician ' went to the house to investigate.ˆ
Upon arriving, they were briefed by officers and told that even though the home owner was unresponsive when police arrived on the scene, she was alive and had been taken to an area hospital.
'We braced ourselves for what we were about to see,' said Chris.
Inside the house, food dishes had been lined up.ˆ Inside the dishes, the home owner had mixed d-CON rat poison in with the food in an attempt to poison the pets.
'We really have no idea how long she was feeding poison to the animals,' said Chris.ˆ 'It looked as if some of the animals had died quickly and some had hung on for a few days or even weeks.'
In all, the homeowner had 30 cats and a dog.ˆ Only 16 cats and the dog made it out alive.
The cats were split between the Perkiomenville and Conshohocken S.P.C.A.s for treatment and to be cared for during the subsequent trial.ˆ The dog, Lukey, came to the Perkiomenville S.P.C.A.
'As with all animal cruelty cases, there is a trial,' explained Chris.ˆ 'The owner has the right to defend their actions and we are there to defend the animals.'
Although the judge in the case did not find the home owner guilty of animal cruelty, he did rule that because of mental issues, the 16 cats and dog would not be returned to her.ˆ However, she does have the right to appeal the ruling.
In addition, the judge awarded the cats and dog to the Montgomery County S.P.C.A., as well as a lien against the cats.
'The lien is in the amount of $132,300,' said Chris.ˆ 'That amount was awarded to us for the care, feeding, housing and medical attention provided to the animals from the time we picked them up from the house until now.'
'What it also means,' he continued, 'is that the lien must be paid in full in order for her to get the animals back.'
Chris said that it was a team of people that helped ensure that the animal's rights were the foremost concern during the trial.
'We are incredibly lucky to have had Abby Silverman, assistant district attorney for Montgomery County, assigned to help us in animal cruelty cases,' said Chris.ˆ 'It's through Abby's exhaustive efforts that we are able to win these cases and do what's best for the animals.'
In addition, David Beeghley, attorney for the Montgomery County S.P.C.A. and the Perkiomenville branch, worked tirelessly during the case to make sure that the court had all the necessary information to render its decision on behalf of the animals.
Currently, Lukey, Bruce and the others are being well taken care of at the shelters.
'They will all be available for adoption pending appeal,' said Chris.ˆ 'It is every American's right to appeal a ruling to the next higher court.ˆ However, we're hoping that the case ends here and we can find loving homes for these wonderful animals.'
'They have been through something that no animal should ever have to go through and it's time for all of them to have a second chance at good homes.'
For information on these and other animals at the Perkiomenville branch of the Montgomery County S.P.C.A., please call 610-754-7822 or visit the website at www.montgomerycountyspca.org.