Case Snapshot
Case ID: 19728
Classification: Hoarding
Animal: cat, dog (non pit-bull), rodent/small mammal (pet)
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Friday, Jun 29, 2012

County: Berks

Disposition: Alleged
Case Images: 2 files available

» Marylou Petrucci
» Salvatore Ferrara, Jr.
» Harold R. Schaeffer

Case Updates: 1 update(s) available

A previously convicted animal hoarder has been accused of hoarding again. Neighbors said the stench from the Reading home was hard to take and are glad the animal rescue league came in.

The animal rescue league took carrier after carrier of animals out of Mary Lou Petrucci's home Friday night.

A neighbor on the 1500 block of Mineral Spring Road said she didn't know this home had so many pets.

"I thought all the cats I seen walking around were stray cats," said Nichole Mobley, "But they weren't strays. I guess they were coming out of her house walking around trying to find food, use the bathroom outside sometimes."

20 cats, 6 rats, 5 hamsters and 4 dogs were removed out of the known pet hoarder's home. 69 News was not welcomed inside, but the head of the animal rescue league describes a kitchen cabinet.

"Where they have been constantly using it as a litter box. It's piled up like Mount Everest," said Harry Brown.

One of rescuers had feces on her pants from walking in and out of the home.

"The conditions are terrible," said Brown, "No human should have to live like that and no animal should have to live like that."

Mary Lou Petrucci did not want to go on camera, but she said these are her animals and they had plenty of water, food and air conditioning. She said the animal rescue league was being nit picky.

"She's a repeat offender," said Alison Rudy of the Animal Rescue League, "She does know better. She's been through this before. Yes, we're pursuing more serious charges."

Petrucci had to pay fines for hoarding over 40 dogs and cats in Montgomery County in 2006.

"We'll put citations on her and if she wants she can surrender them to us," said Brown, "If not then we'll fight it the legal way."

Nichole Mobley said she's glad the animal rescue league stepped in. The animals left, and she said maybe the stench will leave too.

"Smells like dead animals when you pull up and the flies, if you don't have your window up the flies were out in the street getting to the cars," said Mobley.

Petrucci told a reporter from WFMZ that there is no running water, but her animals lived in a clean area of the home. And she plans to fight for some of her animals.

Case Updates

The stench wafted to the sidewalk, an ammonia scent painting a picture of what lay in store behind a door in the 1500 block of Mineral Spring Road.

Once inside the home, the smell only grew more suffocating, said authorities, who found 35 animals - 22 cats, four dogs, four rats and five hamsters - many of them living amid urine and feces.

"I've been doing this for 23 years, and it ranks in the top 10 already," said Harry D. Brown III, executive director of the Animal Rescue League of Berks County. "It was bad."

On Monday, more than a week after the animal rescue, Reading police said they charged resident Mary Lou Petrucci, 55, with 25 counts of animal cruelty.

Two others at the home, Salvatore Ferrara Jr., 57, and Harold R. Schaeffer, 72, were each charged with one count of animal cruelty, police said.

Brown and Humane Officer Alison Rudy said they went to the home on June 29 and found cats stowed away in cages without water, food or litter.

At least one cat was missing an eye, and one of the rescued dogs, a pit bull named Dolly, was hospitalized for a condition that left her ears swollen and her skin raw and bloody from scratching, Rudy said.

Ferrara was permitted to keep one dog, which appeared to be in healthy condition, Rudy said.

Authorities said the cruelty charges aren't the first to be lodged against Petrucci. Montgomery County Court records show Petrucci was convicted in 2008 on nearly 50 counts of animal cruelty and fined for failing to have her dogs and cats vaccinated.

Attempts to contact Petrucci at the Reading home were unsuccessful on Monday. A condemned notice, dated June 28 and posted above the "Beware of Dog" sign, deems the home "unfit for human habitation."

Another notice posted Monday morning stated that Petrucci failed to appear for a scheduled home inspection.

To date, Petrucci has not produced rabies vaccination records for any of the 22 cats or four dogs, Rudy said, noting that she could face fines of $50 to $300 per animal.

Possession of an unlicensed dog carries similar fines, and the four dogs were not licensed at the time, Rudy said, adding that Ferrara and Schaeffer have since had some of the dogs licensed under their names.

The seized animals can't be made eligible for adoption, Rudy said, until Petrucci surrenders them or is ordered to forfeit ownership. As of Monday, Petrucci had only given up two cats, Rudy said.

"What I told Ms. Petrucci was that anything you sign over you won't be charged for," Rudy said. "I'm done with playing 'Let's Make a Deal' with her."

No fines or charges were sought for the rats and hamsters rescued at the property.
Source: Reading Eagle - July 10, 2012
Update posted on Jul 10, 2012 - 12:13AM 


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