Saturday, November 7, 2009

No charges yet in Union City cat hoarding case

UNION CITY -- Pauline Haburski was never charged in 2003 when animal cruelty officers found 44 live cats, a dog and numerous dead cats in her Erie home.
Instead, Haburski agreed to turn over the animals to the Humane Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania, which adopted them out.

But it is likely Haburski will face charges this time.

Eighty-two dead cats and 25 live cats were found Thursday in Haburski's current home in Union City. The home, at 3 Odell St., was searched by officers from the Union City Police Department and the Humane Society. A warrant was obtained before the search.

"Charges are probable," said Merle Wolfgang, the chief cruelty officer for the Humane Society.

She said she will consult with the Erie County District Attorney's Office next week to determine how to proceed with the case.

The Humane Society's cruelty division has the authority to investigate and charge in cruelty cases.

Of the 25 cats found alive in the residence, one had to beeuthanized because it was so ill, Wolfgang said. The rest are at the Humane Society, she said. They cannot be adopted until either the owner signs them over to the Humane Society or court proceedings are completed.

Wolfgang said officials don't know how the other cats died. She said some of the bodies were badly decomposed. Some of the cats were skinny, but others appeared to be well-fed, she said.

"We won't know how they died," she said.

Haburski said in an interview in 2003 that her husband had asked her while on his deathbed to take care of the cats.

"Cats were my life," Haburski said then.

Haburski said the cats that were seized from her home in the 3300 block of Rice Avenue in Erie in 2003 were strays that she had adopted..." More