SAGINAW, MI — A Saginaw Township woman is facing a felony for allegedly abandoning more than a dozen cats in her house, several of which died in her absence.
On Nov. 9, Saginaw County Animal Care & Control Center received a call from a concerned citizen who said numerous cats appeared to have been abandoned in a house on Centennial Drive after their owner seemingly moved out, said Director Bonnie Kanicki.
“The caller was worried the animals had not been taken care of since previous resident had moved out,” Kanicki said. “This citizen indicated they had not seen the resident in two to three weeks.”
Animal Control officers went to the house in question, which Kanicki said was in deplorable conditions.
“The officers could see through the windows and the cats were scratching at the windows,” Kanicki said. “The cats would follow the officers as they were walking around, going window to window. They were scratching in a gesture of appearing to want to get out.”
Officers counted 12 cats that they could see from the outside looking in.
“There were feces all over the floor in every room,” Kanicki said. “They did not see any available food or water.”
A few days later, Animal Control and Saginaw Township police officers executed a search warrant on the house.
“They went room to room looking for cats,” Kanicki said. “Every room in this house was just full of trash, feces, and urine.”
“A lot of the cats were emaciated and dehydrated,” added Animal Control Officer Bailey Gosen, who was on scene. “When we opened the door to the house, an orange cat ran out and jumped in the front seat of the Animal Control truck. Those cats wanted out real bad.”
Officers removed 12 cats from the house. They found the bodies of four more in the house, two of which were exceptionally decomposed, Gosen said.
Officers had their initial interview with the former resident, 34-year-old Jennifer A. Barron, on Dec. 6.
“She claimed they were strays and that somebody had left the window open and they had gathered in her home,” Kanicki said.
Barron came back a few days later and said she found another cat among the debris in the house and surrendered it to Animal Control, bringing the total of living cats to 13.
Barron initially surrendered ownership rights to all but three of the cats. Authorities issued a warrant for Barron on March 3 and officers arrested her on April 1, after which she surrendered her rights to the last three cats, Kanicki said.
Those 13 cats are still alive and have rebounded after receiving veterinary care. All but four have been adopted, Kanicki said.
The remaining four are all males—an orange named Lux, a gray named Pancake, a black-and-white named Mini-Moo, and a tiger-striped one named Pooka. While Lux, Pancake, and Mini-Moo are available for adoption now, Pooka must remain with Animal Control for a while longer due to ongoing veterinary treatment. Those interested in adopting Lux, Pancake, or Mini-Moo can call the shelter at 989-797-4500.
Barron on Monday, April 4, was arraigned in Saginaw County District Court on one count of cruelty to 10 or more animals. The charge is a felony punishable by up to four years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Barron is free on a $10,000 personal recognition bond, a condition of which is that she does not possess any animals. Her case is set for a hearing at 11:30 am on April 11.
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