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Sunday, May 27, 2012County: Monmouth
Case Images: 3 files available
Alleged: Lorraine R. Smith
Emergency personnel responding to a fire alarm at the home of a retired teacher early Sunday instead found a "nightmare" house full of dead cats, according to an SPCA official.
Lorraine R. Smith, 65, the owner of the house at 511 La Reine Ave., faces at least 36 counts of animal cruelty and an estimated $3,600 in fines for the 36 dead cats found in varying stages of decomposition at the house, according to Victor "Buddy" Amato, chief of the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Bradley Beach Police Chief Leonard A. Guida said police and fire officials responded about 2 a.m. to a fire alarm at the home but instead found the house filled with the dead animals.
"I suspect the fire alarm possibly was set off because of the odor of decaying cats," Guida said.
The SPCA, local code enforcement and Monmouth County Health Department officials all responded to the scene.
"We found dead animals on all three floors," Amato said. "The house will probably need to be condemned."
Amato said animal control officer Kevin Rooney also assisted in assessing the severity of the problem.
"When I went into the house, it was just a nightmare," Amato said. "It looked like a lot of the animals were cannibalizing one another."
Amato said Smith, a retired educator, will go before a Municipal Court judge sometime next month.
"I spoke to the suspect and informed her she was going to be charged," he said.
Amato said he released Smith on her own recognizance because he believes she is not a flight risk.
He said she moved to Bangs Avenue in Neptune close to a year ago to take care of for her elderly mother and that is most likely when rescuing the animals became overwhelming.
"These are not bad people," Amato said. "They have good intention, but then they get overwhelmed and begin to get desensitized to what is going on. I think taking care of her mother became a priority over taking care of the animals."
Guida said Smith will face code enforcement violation as well as municipal ordinance violations.
Amato said Smith also faces the house remediation expense according to health department guidelines.
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