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Friday, Jul 7, 2006County: Montgomery
Alleged: Robert Bealer
A Phoenixville man has been charged with two counts of cruelty to animals after the Chester County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and Humane Society officers removed 27 cats and one mouse from his Emmett Street residence.
Robert Bealer, of 313 Emmett Street, Phoenixville, is facing the charges after SPCA officials began their investigation into his residence last Friday.
According to Chuck McDevitt, the SPCA's public relations director, Humane Society officers first came to the residence on July 7 to inspect the premises.
"We had complaints of an odor coming from the home," said McDevitt. "Someone either called us or the borough about it."
Borough Manager Anthony DiGirolomo said his office received complaints about the residence, and sent out code enforcement officials to inspect the premises.
"We handle complaints and this time we responded to resident complaints about this residence," said DiGirolomo. "From our point of view, it's a property maintenance problem and if the house was habitable or not."
After the inspection on Friday, McDevitt said it was determined that SPCA officials would return this past Monday to remove the animals.
"I was in the residence on Monday," he said. "There was a really powerful, strong odor and stains everywhere. We took 21 cats and one mouse out of the house on Monday, and due to caging and room, we are back taking the rest out (Wednesday)."
McDevitt and Humane Society officers Michelle Bestwick and Cheryl Shaw returned to the three-story home on Wednesday to remove the final animals.
"Although the owners cleaned up the house, we still felt it necessary to remove the remaining cats," said McDevitt. "All of the cats suffer various medical problems such as hair loss, fleas, and upper respiratory problems. People think they are helping the cats by providing a home, but it's not a healthy home."
DiGirolomo said he was informed that the residence was in better shape than it first appeared last Friday.
"They took heed to our first inspection and they cleaned up a little bit," he said. "It's not the animals' fault. They were put into that environment."
Around 11:45 a.m. Wednesday morning, Bestwick and Shaw began removing the remaining cats out of the residence.
"We got six cats out today," said Shaw. "One was hiding underneath a couch that we didn't see on Monday."
McDevitt said the cats will be examined within the next 24 hours to determine their health.
The penalty for cruelty to animals is a fine ranging from $50 to $750 and 90 days in jail per count.
McDevitt said this isn't his office's first experience with Bealer, who had an estimated 50 cats in his Pottstown residence in 2003.
"We received complaints about him back then," he said. "We ended up removing 25 cats from that residence and he managed to find homes for the rest. Since this is his second offense with us, that is why he's being charged with cruelty to animals."
Shaw said that Bealer told her that he simply loves cats.
"He told me he loves cats," she said. "He drives around and finds strays and brings them home. The problem is that he accumulates so many that he doesn't know how to care for them all."
McDevitt said that his office investigates every complaint turned in, and in some cases, animal removal isn't necessary.
"They come out first to determine if there is a problem," he said. "If we receive a complaint and the animals are cared for, that is fine. We only begin to remove animals when the situation is worse."
- The Phoenix - July 13, 2006
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