Friday, August 21, 2009

Woman faces 50 counts of animal cruelty

Accused of keeping cats in deplorable conditions

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - News 4 is learning more about a woman accused of keeping more than four dozen cats in deplorable conditions.

Joanne McGrath says she was giving food and shelter to sick and abandoned cats that nobody wanted or cared about. She pleaded not guilty to fifty counts of animal cruelty.

McGrath said, "I was only trying to do good for animals. I'm not the kind of person they're portraying me to be."

But the SPCA says it had to rescue forty-nine cats and a dog from squalid conditions, both in McGrath's Saint Francis Animal Sanctuary on Sayre Street in Buffalo, and her home on Arkansas Street...." More & Video

Additional video: Animal Hoarding defined

August 17, 2009: Woman who hoarded cats charged with 50 counts of cruelty

The operator of a pet sanctuary in a feces-littered apartment on Sayre Street where 32 cats were removed on Aug. 6 was charged today with 50 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.

Joanne C. McGrath, 55, of Arkansas Street, faces up to a year in jail or a $1,000 fine, or both, if convicted on the charges. McGrath is scheduled to appear on the charges Friday morning in Buffalo City Court, according to Gina Browning, a spokeswoman for the SPCA Serving Erie County.

A week after animal rescue workers from the SPCA removed 32 cats from a rear apartment at 33 Sayre St. in the city's Riverside neighborhood, where McGrath operated St. Francis Pet Sanctuary, rescue workers seized 17 cats and a puppy from McGrath's Arkansas Street apartment.

"She signed over the cats that were seized from the Sayre Street property," Browning said Monday. "So, right now we own 32. She didn't sign over the ones from her residence, but they're still in [the SPCA's] custody."

Two of the 17 cats removed from McGrath's Arkansas Street apartment were near death at the time the SPCA seized them and were later euthanized, Browning said.

"We're dealing with the 32 cats seized from Sayre Street on a case-by-case basis, but it looks like they all will survive," Browning added..." More