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|Prosecutor(s):|| Abby Silverman|
|Judge(s):|| William T. Nicholas, Maurice H. Saylor| CONVICTED: Was justice served?
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Friday, Jul 14, 2006County: Montgomery
Defendant/Suspect: Marylou Petrucci
Case Updates: 3 update(s) available
Humane officials filed animal-cruelty charges on July 19 in Montgomery County District Court alleging that a woman kept 31 dogs, 16 cats, a rabbit and several turtles in filthy conditions at her Perkiomenville home.
Officials from the Montgomery County SPCA cited Marylou Petrucci, 49, of the 2200 block of Little Road, with 49 counts of failing to provide sanitary conditions or veterinary care for her pets.
The citations, each a summary offense similar to a traffic ticket, were filed at the Gilbertsville offices of Montgomery County District Judge Dorothy Sherchock.
Petrucci could not be reached for comment.
She was cited once for each animal except for three small box turtles, which were lumped together as one count, said SPCA spokeswoman Kimberley Bonanni.
Humane officers acting on a search warrant entered Petrucci's home and a trailer in the backyard on July 14 and seized the animals after officials became concerned for the pets' welfare.
The property, on a rural road in New Hanover Township, is occupied by Petrucci and her teenage daughter, but owned by Michael Dietrich, officials said.
Dogs were found roaming the house. Cats were confined to the trailer. All were being evaluated for ailments including parasites, ear and eye infections, and hair loss at the SPCA's Perkiomenville shelter yesterday.
Christopher Langiotti, a humane officer who directs the SPCA shelter, said Petrucci was given many chances over the last four years to clean up their living quarters, but didn't do so.
"Each time there was a buildup of feces and urine in the house and trailer, as well as an overpowering smell of feces and urine," he said in papers filed with the search warrant.
SPCA executive director Carmen J. Ronio said the odor was so overwhelming that humane officers had to be issued respirators so that they could remove the animals.
In a separate action, Pennsylvania Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement officers filed charges in district court alleging that Petrucci was operating a kennel without a license.
They also allege that she hadn't obtained licenses or rabies shots for her pets.
|A former New Hanover woman has forfeited her rights to the nearly 50 dogs and cats that she was convicted of improperly caring for, clearing the way for the animals to be adopted.|
Mary Lou Petrucci reached an agreement with Montgomery County prosecutors to give up her rights to the animals in exchange for the Montgomery County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals agreeing not to seek restitution from Petrucci for housing the animals while Petrucci's case plays out in the courts.
"This way (the SPCA) can start placing them in homes and with breed-specific rescue organizations and they won't incur any more costs," explained Assistant District Attorney Abby Silverman.
Petrucci's appeal of her animal cruelty conviction to a state court had been preventing the SPCA from placing the 31 dogs and 16 cats on an adoption list. The law required the SPCA to hold the animals until Petrucci's appeals are exhausted or until she relinquished her rights to the animals.
The SPCA had been housing the animals for more than two years, racking up more than $122,000 in costs to feed and treat the animals.
Under the agreement, Petrucci will not have to pay the SPCA the costs for housing the animals. Petrucci still must pay the $2,375 in fines that were part of her conviction.
"The SPCA's main interest was the animals and now that the animals can be placed they won't be sitting there for any extra time. They can get forever homes," said Silverman.
Prosecutors previously said a border collie rescue group had been interested in taking most of the dogs to try to find homes for the dogs. Anyone interested in adopting the animals should contact the SPCA.
"It's bittersweet," Silverman said about the compromise agreement, adding it's good the animals will finally be available for adoption but disappointing the SPCA won't be reimbursed for the housing costs.
Even though she relinquished custody of the animals, Petrucci continues to appeal her conviction of animal cruelty charges.
During a hearing in June, Judge William T. Nicholas convicted Petrucci, formerly of the 2100 block of Little Road, of 48 summary counts of cruelty to animals as well as charges that she failed to properly license the dogs and failed to vaccinate the dogs against rabies in connection with a July 2006 incident.
By hoarding more than 26 animals in one place, Petrucci, most recently of Douglassville, also violated a state kennel law, the judge determined.
Nicholas ruled that the dogs and cats be permanently forfeited to the SPCA.
The SPCA had confiscated the animals after conducting a search of the Little Road home on July 13, 2006.
Edward Davies, operations manager at the SPCA, previously testified it cost the agency $122,304 to care for the animals from July 2006 through June 2008.
Silverman said prosecutors stand by their evidence and will fight Petrucci's appeal. Silverman alleged the animals were kept in "filthy conditions."
Authorities testified the Little Road residence was littered with animal feces and urine on the day the animals were rescued from the two-story stone farmhouse. Testimony revealed the stench was so bad that local firefighters had to provide the animal rescuers with air masks so they could enter the home.
The judge heard the case after Petrucci appealed a previous ruling by District Court Judge Maurice H. Saylor, who convicted Petrucci of the same charges and ordered her to pay fines in connection with citations issued under regulations of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
|Source: The Reporter Online - Oct 12, 2008|
Update posted on Oct 13, 2008 - 8:03PM
|A Montgomery County, Pa. woman has been convicted of nearly 50 counts of animal cruelty, for keeping dozens of cats and dogs in filthy conditions in her former home.|
A Montgomery County judge ruled that Mary Lou Petrucci was hoarding 31 dogs and 16 cats at her former home on Little Road in New Hanover Township, living in their own filth without adequate water or ventilation. She was also found guilty of failing to license the dogs and for not having a kennel license.
Petrucci was appealing an earlier, "summary" ruling that found her guilty of the offenses without a trial.
Prosecutor Abby Silverman says authorities seized the dogs from the home nearly two years ago, after complaints of foul odors coming from the house:
"The home was filthy -- very unsanitary conditions. There was no adequate access to water, not adequate ventilation. There was also evidence presented of eleven cats living in a trailer in the backyard."
Petrucci was ordered to pay more than $2,300 in fines and to forfeit the animals.
A restitution hearing will be held at a later date. Prosecutors are looking for more than $120,000 -- the amount they say it's cost the SPCA to house the animals since they were taken from the home. Silverman says the SPCA has been forced to board the animals -- rather than placing them up for adoption -- until the case is settled once and for all:
"The animals were originally taken from the Petrucci residence on July 13th of 2006, and they have had to house them and provide veterinary care for them."
|Source: KYW - June 19, 2008|
Update posted on Jun 22, 2008 - 11:37PM
|A search and seizure warrant was served on July 14 after complaints of an "overpowering smell of urine and feces was reportedly coming from the home," Bonnani said. |
Upon entering the home, police said they saw the source of the smell -- everywhere. They also found that the home was without running water, but the basement was filled with 4 to 5 feet of water.
Bonnani described the animals as having various eye and ear infections, birth defects, club feet, heat stroke, flea infestations and skin ailments. They were also malnourished and lacked various vaccinations, including rabies, she said.
Petrucci is facing charges of 49 counts of animal cruelty for the lack of food, water, sanitation and veterinary care of the animals. An additional 79 counts of animal cruelty are being charged by the Pennsylvania Bureau of Dog Law. Police said the crimes are all misdemeanors.
Petrucci could not be reached for comment, but Bonnani said Petrucci wants the animals back. "She doesn't think we have the grounds for taking the animals," she said.
Bonnani said the SPCA has seen this type of animal "hoarding" before.
"Typically it occurs when people take in animals that they can't adequately care for," she said.
In Petrucci's case, many of the dogs came from inter-breeding among the existing animals, although police said she was not running any sort of puppy mill.
All the animals have been rescued and taken to the Perkiomenville SPCA, where the extent of their injuries is still being assessed.
Bonnani said the cost of taking in so many animals is great, and that it is still unclear the extent of damage, respiratory and otherwise, these animals have incurred.
The pets are not up for adoption, but will stay in the care of the SPCA until the case is resolved.
|Source: The Mercury - July 22, 2006|
Update posted on Jul 24, 2006 - 12:42AM
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