Case Snapshot
Case ID: 18637
Classification: Hoarding
Animal: cat
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Prosecutor(s): Todd Simmonds

Wednesday, Dec 1, 2010

Disposition: Alleged

» Donald Cruickshank
» Tatyana Kondratyeva

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

The cat is out of the bag for Donald Cruickshank, who kept dozens of dead felines in his freezer for three years.

The Auckland man faces two animal cruelty-related charges after living in squalor surrounded by more than 50 cats locked inside his suburban home.

Auckland SPCA charged Cruickshank, aged 77, and his friend Tatyana Kondratyeva, aged 48, with failing to care for the animals and not ensuring 22 of them received medical attention. They have both pleaded not guilty in the North Shore District Court.

The SPCA alleged police officers noticed several unhealthy cats living in filthy conditions at Cruickshank's Glenfield home while attending an incident in December last year.

It claimed SPCA inspectors were almost suffocated by a strong smell of ammonia, food and faeces from 19 cats which were running freely around the lounge and bedroom. Another 17 were locked in cages with litter trays "overflowing" and another 23 were discovered in a fly-infested unit downstairs.

In a disturbing discovery, police found 38 dead cats wrapped in blood-stained newspaper and fabric bags next to food inside two fridges and freezers.

When SPCA inspectors returned to remove the dead cats, Cruickshank allegedly told them he kept the dead cats so their spirits would be with him forever.

SPCA seized all surviving cats and claimed to have treated 22 animals which were ill with several infections including gingivitis, flea allergies and ring worm.

Cruickshank told the Herald on Sunday the charges were outrageous because he was a cat lover.

"I've been involved with saving cats virtually all my life ... I've spent millions of dollars on cats," Cruickshank said.

He said the cats in his freezer had been there for at least three years because he didn't have time to bury them in coffins.

"Twenty-five years ago when they subdivided Green Valley we were feeding wild cats that came here ... they either had to be carted away or whatever so we provided accommodation for them and the last one died about three years ago ...

"It's not that unusual for people to do this I might add. I haven't got some kinky idea of doing things like that," Cruickshank said.

He claimed he didn't own the 50 cats but allowed friend Kondratyeva to keep her animals at his property after she was forced to move out of her home.

Kondratyeva said she had been rescuing colony cats for about 10 years and always took them to the vets for medical treatment.

She claimed the house maintenance had lapsed after Cruickshank banned her from his property when their relationship turned sour.

"I tried to come back and care for cats. They are my responsibility but I wasn't allowed, he'd say no, not now just leave it ... it [the house] was clean when I left," she said.

The pair were scheduled to appear again on February 23 for defended hearings.

Case Updates

A mob of felines seized from an Auckland man who allegedly kept dead cats in his freezer is costing the SPCA $3500 a week to keep in foster care.

Donald Cruickshank, 77, and his friend Tatyana Kondratyeva, 48, are charged with animal cruelty, for failing to care for their animals and not ensuring they received medical attention.

When the SPCA raided Cruickshank's house in December 2010, they allegedly found dozens of live cats living in filthy conditions and 38 dead ones in a freezer.

After laying charges, SPCA took 50 of the live cats into care, where they remain due to delays in hearing the case.

Cruickshank, a self-professed cat lover, appeared in the North Shore District Court yesterday for what was supposed to be a two-day hearing.

He was prepared to defend the allegations himself, bringing a plastic container of files and a friend to help him understand what was going on. Cruickshank has hearing difficulties.

However, Kondratyeva did not show because she was sick.

Prosecution lawyer Todd Simmonds argued strongly that the case still go ahead - asking the defense to try to persuade its client to turn up tomorrow - because of concern about the cats' welfare.

The ongoing cost to the SPCA to care for the 49 cats - one had been put down - was about $3500 per week, for board, food and medicine, Simmonds said.

"They cannot be released or go outside ... Because a number of them are feral. If they were released, they won't be seen again," he said.

"It's not in these animals' best interests that they be kept in these conditions for any longer."

However, while the judge said he was mindful of the SPCA's concerns, the matter had to be adjourned until Kondratyeva could attend.

It will be called again in mid March.

Cruickshank said in court yesterday he still wants to argue his case. It was earlier reported he kept the dead cats in the freezer because he did not have time to bury them in coffins.
Source: - Feb 24, 2012
Update posted on Feb 23, 2012 - 10:46AM 


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