Lannie and Amanda Price, a mother and daughter, living in Lansing, America were convicted of animal cruelty (a misdemeanour, a more serious crime) because they hoarded lots of cats and many of them had died. That is a pretty typical scenario for a cat hoarder. Cat hoarders are often very cruel to their cats even if they don’t always comprehend it.
A judge then has to decide the best sentence. In this instance it was borderline whether the women were fit to stand trial (that may have been a defence ploy). At one time they were deemed unfit to stand trial but eventually the trial proceeded and they pleaded guilty.
I think the judge made the correct decision on sentencing. Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina gave them suspended sentences of five years and one year respectively. This means they are not jailed immediately but will go to jail if they reoffend.
The key aspect of the sentences is that the judge ordered that they pay $20,000 to Ingham Animal Control to reimburse their expenses in rescuing the hoarded cats and $40,000 to the owner of the home which they had rented and at which the hoarding took place. It needs a complete refurbishment.
In addition both criminals are under probationary terms to seek help for their mental health problems. They need mental health assessments, a course of treatment and to carry out the treatment. Further they have to register their address with Animal Control.
That is fairly comprehensive set of conditions as a sentence for cat hoarding resulting in cat cruelty. And I think the judge is spot on because cat hoarding is often a mental health problem which requires a focus on treatment rather than punishment.
That is not to say that punishment is not also required. All animal cruelty requires punishment but trying to find a cure for the behaviour is important to stop reoffending. There are countless stories of cat hoarders relapsing.
In fact you could argue that these sorts of mental health issues are intractable. People will always go back to this sort of deviant behaviour. At least in this instance the judge is doing her best to strike a nice balance between punishment and rehabilitation.
Lannie and Amanda Price hoarded 126 cats of which 26 were dead and about 80 were subsequently euthanised due to poor health. This was a bad case of cat hoarding.
The freeholder of the home in question is also under a demand to refurbish the home to habitable conditions to avoid prosecution. He/she was lax in letting her property become a home for cat hoarders. As a rented property the tenants were obviously in breach of their tenancy agreement. She should have evicted them well before the problem deteriorated.