Case Snapshot
Case ID: 16584
Classification: Hoarding
Animal: cat
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Prosecutor(s): Kate Lamson

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Friday, Oct 8, 2010

County: Bennington

Charges: Summary
Disposition: Civil penalty imposed
Case Images: 1 files available

» Regina Millard
» Bertha A. Ryan

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

Local police, after finding 77 cats in two separate vehicles, issued civil citations for animal cruelty to two Troy, N.Y., women Friday afternoon that could be upgraded to criminal charges following a review by the Bennington County State's Attorney's office.

Regina Millard, 54, and Bertha Ryan, 61, both of Troy, were issued civil citations that carry $300 fines. Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette said a criminal affidavit will be filed by police and reviewed Monday by prosecutors, who may choose to upgrade the charges to a criminal act.

A total of 77 cats were found inside the two vehicles, including one found dead in a trunk. Doucette said police originally thought 50 cats were in the cars -- 27 in one car and 23 in the other. The cats were of varying ages, he said. Each car had two passengers, Doucette said, and one contained a litter box. Both vehicles had a strong odor emanating from windows opened by police to provide the cats with air.

"The stench is nauseating," Doucette said.

Plates of food were in the vehicles. Some of the cats had fecal matter matted to their fur, according to Doucette. Police began investigating the cars after a complaint was made from the Aldi grocery store around 1 p.m. Bennington Police Sgt. Lloyd Dean said someone reported people sleeping in the vehicles with the cats.

Police had both vehicles towed to the town's highway garage on Depot Street.

Officers used plastic suits and air packs to perform a cursory search of the vehicles while awaiting a search warrant. "They refused to voluntarily relinquish ownership of the cats," Dean said.

It took police until 9 p.m. to remove all of the animals, according to Dean.

Doucette said just two of the cats are owned by occupants in the vehicles. The rest, including stray and feral cats, were picked up in various places, he said. Millard and Ryan were apparently looking for homes for the animals, Doucette said. "They were driving from shelter to shelter trying to give some of the cats away for adoption," he said.

Doucette said the town's animal control officer would seek shelters to house the cats while the case is pending.

Case Updates

Two women who were found with more than 80 cats in two cars last year pleaded guilty Tuesday to multiple animal cruelty charges.

Bertha A. Ryan, 62, and Regina Millard, both of Troy, N.Y., each pleaded guilty to 13 misdemeanor counts of cruelty to an animal in Bennington Superior Court Criminal Division. Bennington County Deputy State's Attorney Kate Lamson said the two women faced one count for each cat that had to be euthanized.

Both women were given an 18-month deferred sentence. Lamson said Ryan and Millard must also undergo mental health treatment and counseling during their probation period. They are also not allowed to own or possess any animals.

Lamson said the two women changed their pleas to guilty on the same day a jury was to be selected to hear the case.

Prosecutors had been offering deferred sentences since arraignment proceedings, Lamson said.

"These women had no record. We were really trying to curb their behavior rather than punish them," she said.

Should Ryan or Millard violate the terms of the deferred sentence, they could be required to serve it out in jail. That is unlikely, though, Lamson said.

"I don't know if we would ask for it and I'm not sure that the judge would order it," she said.

Bennington Police responded to the Aldi grocery store parking lot last October after someone reported people sleeping in a car with a number of cats. Police eventually found more than 80 cats inside two vehicles.

The vehicles and animals were seized by police and the cats were sent to the West Mountain Animal Hospital and Shaftsbury's Second Chance Animal Shelter. Local officials said all the cats were in need of medical care.

Most of the cats have been put up for adoption.

New York police also seized around 50 cats from Ryan's home in Troy.

Ryan told the Banner in an interview that she and her sister, Millard, were looking for no-kill shelters for the cats. She said her brother-in-law began hoarding the cats and she was attempting to find homes for the animals.
Source: - Jul 13, 2011
Update posted on Jul 14, 2011 - 8:45AM 


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