Case Snapshot
Case ID: 18796
Classification: Hoarding
Animal: cat
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Tuesday, Oct 11, 2011

County: Frederick

Disposition: Alleged

Alleged: Kimberly Ann McMillian-Stakes

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

The Lewistown woman charged with animal cruelty after nearly 90 cats were removed from her house filed a petition in Frederick County District Court asking to have the remaining animals returned, Animal Control Director Harold Domer said Wednesday.

A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 16 to determine if the cats will be returned to Kimberly Ann McMillian-Stakes, 47, who is charged with 104 counts of animal cruelty. She was released from the Frederick County Adult Detention Center on Tuesday after posting $15,000 bail, according to court documents.

She filed the petition the same day she was arrested and bailed out of jail.

Of the 89 cats removed, 19 have been put down, and an additional five, including four kittens, died at the center. None of the animals are available for adoption until the petition is resolved.

Animal Control officers on Oct. 11 checked an anonymous tip about cats at a residence in the 11200 block of Putman Road, according to charging documents filed in District Court. They found 30 to 40 cats outside the house, many suffering from various ailments.

On Oct. 18, an officer met with a detective from the Frederick County Sheriff's Office who agreed to be an affiant for a search warrant on the house.

Later that day, the officer received another anonymous tip that McMillian-Stakes was removing cats from the property.

Officers decided they should serve the warrant immediately, and a detective and an Animal Control officer secured the house while another detective met with a judge to get the warrant signed.

Court documents describe the residence as filled with trash, cat feces and urine. Officers attributed the upper respiratory infections that nearly all the cats had to the air in the house.

Documents state that officers found a bowl containing bird remains they believe were being fed to the cats. Additionally, they found a cat skull and the carcass of a kitten in the house.

A total of 70 dead cats were found between the house and the yard, where they were kept in coolers and plastic bags.

"Our officers had a lot of stress on them finding and removing all those cats," Domer said.

Domer said it is one of the worst animal hoarding cases his office has investigated.

Domer said officers have found no evidence so far that cats were removed before the warrant was served.

He said they believe between four and six cats remain on the property and need to be removed.

McMillian-Stakes has since been evicted from the house, according to court papers.

She has an extensive history with Animal Control and Health Department officials, with thousands of dollars in fines and liens against her since 2007.

The fines were nearly all for cats that were either loose or unlicensed, or for excessive trash on the property.

"I can tell you that we have had many contacts with Kimberly McMillian-Stakes over the years," Domer said.

Domer said officers have gone to her residence several times to let her know her cats were at the Animal Control Center after being captured.

She told them to leave the property on a number of occasions, and in the absence of a specific complaint they had to comply, he said.

Officers would have taken action at the time if any of the animals had showed signs of abuse or neglect, Domer said.

Domer wouldn't comment about McMillian-Stakes' petition to have the cats returned.

Case Updates

A Lewistown woman charged with animal cruelty after almost 90 cats were removed from her house said officials have known for years that she had many cats on the property, and even issued a permit for up to 140 animals.

Kimberly McMillian-Stakes said Frederick County Animal Control officers have been to her former home on many occasions and had her pick up her cats at the Animal Control Center when they got off the property and were captured. She said neglect was never an issue.

McMillian-Stakes had operated a sanctuary on the property in the 1200 block of Putman Road since 1991, she said, taking in mostly feral cats, many with health problems, and spending thousands of dollars on food and veterinary care.

"I take in the cats that aren't perfect, and I love them to death," McMillian-Stakes said. "I owe several vets thousands of dollars."

McMillian-Stakes said she has spent more than $30,000 some years on food and vet bills. She sees the longevity of some cats as proof that the animals received proper care.

"You can't say when there are cats over 20 (years old) that they weren't being cared for," McMillian-Stakes said. "I've gone without everything, but those cats have never gone without."

A 2006 letter from veterinarian Charles Mecenas of the Animal Care Clinic in Walkersville appears to support several of McMillian-Stakes' claims. According to the letter, Mecenas -- who wrote that he had been to the property to care for cats -- believed the animals were getting adequate food, shelter and veterinary care.

"Ms. Stakes has demonstrated to me that she provides individualized attention to all her cats, even to the extent of knowing individuals by name and personality," the letter states. "In summary, Ms. Stakes has undertaken the enormous task of providing over a hundred cats with a suitable home, cats that otherwise would likely remain homeless or be euthanized."

An invoice from the same year shows McMillian-Stakes making $13,259.82 in payments to the Animal Care Clinic between January and August. According to the invoice, she spent $3,417.70 in 2005, $18,382.38 in 2004 and $12,502.29 in 2003.

Animal Control Director Harold Domer would not comment on the specifics of the cats' care, but he said documenting vet visits was part of the investigation that led to McMillian-Stakes being charged with multiple counts of failure to provide veterinary care. He also said the issue came up when her animals ended up at the county center.

"On more than one occasion, the cats that were returned to her needed veterinary care, and she was told to make sure that happened," Domer said.

McMillian-Stakes said Animal Control officials have refused to let her see the cats they removed in October, some of which she believes have been unnecessarily put down. She believes more will be destroyed because she is speaking with the media, she said.

"Mark my words, they will put down more cats," she said.

Domer said McMillian-Stakes is not allowed to see the cats because officials believe it would put stress on the animals. But she was offered a chance to look at pictures of each cat, he said, so she could share specific medical and behavioral information about them.

"As of today, that has not taken place," Domer said Tuesday.

All the cats that were put down were first evaluated by a veterinarian.

Conflicting statements

McMillian-Stakes acknowledged conditions at the house -- including high levels of ammonia from cat waste -- got out of hand in recent months. But she said her health and financial problems, including a lack of steady income for three years, prevented her from keeping up with the mess.

She said she plans to save the house from foreclosure and remodel the interior. She was not staying at the property except to work on the house and feed and care for the cats.

"Did the house get to be a mess at the end?" McMillian-Stakes said. "Yeah, it did get to be a mess, but everything was about to be thrown away anyway."

McMillian-Stakes said officers misrepresented in charging documents some of what they found in the house: Buckets of debris from a flood in the basement, which she said contained cat waste scraped from the floor, were characterized as overflowing litter boxes, and feathers from a bird one of the cats likely dragged in were described as bird remains she was feeding the cats.

"I would never feed them a bird," she said.

The cats were given dry food twice a day, she said, and a "milkshake" of wet food, milk, vitamins and any necessary medications once a day.

Animal Control officers reported finding 68 dead cats on the property in coolers and in plastic bags in a pit in the backyard.

These were older animals that had died of natural causes and were being buried, McMillian-Stakes said; her sister was going to fill in the pit containing the carcasses.

She took issue with the number of dead cats reported, saying there were not nearly that many.

Domer said he has not been inside the house and would defer to the charging documents regarding the conditions officers found there. The number of dead cats, he said, was determined by a careful count.

"I don't want to try this case in the media," Domer said.

McMillian-Stakes has filed a petition to have the remaining cats returned to her. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Wednesday.
Source: - Nov 12, 2011
Update posted on Nov 12, 2011 - 9:25PM 


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