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Case ID: 13365
Classification: Hoarding
Animal: cat, dog (non pit-bull), horse
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Attorneys/Judges
Defense(s): Ron Valasek
Judge(s): Jill E. Rangos, Suzanne Blaschak


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Hoarding 450 cats
Tarentum, PA (US)

Incident Date: Thursday, Mar 13, 2008
County: Allegheny

Charges: Misdemeanor, Felony CTA
Disposition: Convicted
Case Images: 7 files available

Defendant/Suspect: Linda Marie Bruno

Case Updates: 19 update(s) available

Humane agents raided a property north of Pittsburgh tonight, finding hundreds of dead and dying cats in what may be the largest animal seizure in Pennsylvania history.

Howard Nelson, director of the Philadelphia-based Pennsylvania SPCA, which orchestrated the raid, said as many as 1,000 cats could ultimately be removed from Tiger Ranch, located in Tarentum, about 20 miles from Pittsburgh.

"It's a death camp," said Nelson, speaking by cell phone as he helped gather emaciated and diseased cats crammed into trailers and other outbuildings across the 30-acre property. "I see cats that can't walk, and dead cats in litter boxes and lying by food bowls."

Nelson said many of the cats have severe respiratory illnesses and others are infected with diseases that cause blindness.

A team of more than 100 people, including law enforcement officers, humane agents, veterinarians and volunteers, entered the property about 7:15 p.m., Nelson said.

What they found stunned even veteran humane agents.

"The vast number of animals and the degree of neglect is astounding," said Reba McDonald, a humane officer with the SPCA.

The raid was expected to last all night and into tomorrow as agents worked to trap the cats and deliver them to medical teams for assistance.

An emergency shelter was set up at the Clarion County SPCA to handle the vast number of animals.

Humane officers said the owner, Linda M. Bruno, would be charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty.

Bruno was at the site when the raid started and was being questioned late tonight by state police troopers, Nelson said.

Nelson, speaking 90 minutes after the raid began, said Bruno was already facing 13 counts of cruelty connected to the first 17 cats seized.

Tiger Ranch - which, on its Web site, www.tigerranch.org, bills itself as "a cat sanctuary where mercy triumphs" - took in thousands of stray and unwanted cats a year from individuals and high-kill shelters from nine states.

But Nelson called it "a classic hoarding situation."

Postings on Internet message boards suggest that rescues from as far away as Georgia shipped cats to Tiger Ranch and that Philadelphia rescues also sent cats there.


Case Updates

Lin Marie, convicted of cruelty to animals after a raid on her Frazer cat shelter two years ago, will not be sent to jail for failing to meet the terms of her probation, but a judge on Wednesday restricted her travel, ordered her to make more restitution and gave her a stern warning.

The warning and the new restrictions came at a hearing that was scheduled after the district attorney's office told the judge that Ms. Marie, formerly known as Linda Bruno, had failed to meet a number of conditions of her probation.

In January, Judge Jill A. Rangos sentenced Ms. Marie to two years of house arrest and 27 years of probation for charges of animal cruelty and tampering with records after investigators discovered hundreds of cats buried in mass graves. She also was ordered to pay $200,000 in restitution to the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and $21 per day for electronic monitoring fees.

But at a hearing in March, Assistant District Attorney Deborah Jugan told the court Ms. Marie had failed to pay restitution and probation fees, traveled outside the county without permission and still operated the Tiger Ranch website.

At Thursday's hearing, Ms. Jugan asked that Ms. Marie, whose Tiger Ranch shelter housed hundreds of sick and dying cats, be resentenced and incarcerated.

"I can't think of anything good to say," Ms. Jugan told the court at the start of the hearing while discussing Ms. Marie's compliance.

Though Ms. Marie had since begun paying $1,200 per month toward those penalties and taken down the Tiger Ranch website, Ms. Jugan argued she still was not adhering to the travel restrictions of her house arrest. She said that Ms. Marie made purchases from places like Victoria's Secret and the Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills. Ms. Marie can only travel for necessary errands, work and therapy appointments.

But many of those purchases were made online -- not in the "pink, fluffy store" people imagined, said Matthew Collins, Ms. Marie's attorney.

Though the judge determined that not all of Ms. Marie's stated monthly expenses were accurate, Ms. Jugan's evidence -- documented in a 1-inch thick book of financial statements -- was not enough to persuade Judge Rangos to order Ms. Marie to jail.

But Judge Rangos did order Ms. Marie, 48, to increase her monthly payments by $169 and also restricted the time she is allowed to travel for appointments and other outings.

The judge said that although Ms. Marie appeared to have begun to comply with her probation, she said Ms. Marie took too long to do it.

"Don't fool with me," Judge Rangos said.
Source: Post-Gazette - June 18, 2010
Update posted on Jun 18, 2010 - 12:56PM 
Two months after an Allegheny County judge ordered her to have no contact with animals, the former owner of a defunct Frazer Township cat sanctuary appeared in court Tuesday on allegations that she violated the order.

Linda Bruno, 47, was sentenced to 27 years of probation and ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and restitution earlier this year.

She originally faced hundreds of charges when authorities raided her 29-acre Tiger Ranch Farm in March 2008 in Tarentum. Many of the cats on the property, about 20 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, were sick, dying or dead.

In January, Bruno was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay $12,000 in fines and $200,000 in restitution. She was also ordered to have no contact with animals.
Source: wpxi - Mar 16, 2010
Update posted on Mar 19, 2010 - 3:19PM 
The image that Lin Marie presented to the animal rescue community of her cat sanctuary was one of love and success. She described "Tiger Ranch" as "the land of milk and tuna," where hundreds of cats were taken in and adopted back out each month.

But prosecutors yesterday, in asking an Allegheny County Common Pleas Court judge to sentence the woman formerly known as Linda Bruno to jail time, presented a bleak and disturbing image where diseased cats were left to contaminate the healthy, only 21 cats were adopted out of thousands taken in, and mass graves dotted the 29-acre Frazer property.

Judge Jill A. Rangos, who repeatedly admonished the defendant and expressed her disappointment in the multitude of lies she told, did not order the woman to jail.

But she didn't discount the possibility either.

Instead, the judge ordered Ms. Marie, 47, to serve two years of house arrest, followed by 27 years of probation. But Judge Rangos also told the defendant she would not hesitate to put Ms. Marie in jail if she violates even the slightest of conditions of her release.

Among those, she is to have no contact with any animals and she must undergo a psychiatric evaluation and participate in weekly mental health treatment.

"I give you this break, in part, not because you deserve it, but I don't feel the taxpayers of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania should pay to warehouse you at the jail," the judge said.

Further, she added, house arrest will allow Ms. Marie to continue working to earn money to cover restitution. She was ordered to pay $200,000 to cover the cost of the veterinary care provided to the 391 live cats seized during the March 2008 raid of the facility.

A former humane agent who began volunteering at Tiger Ranch in August 2007 went to local animal rights groups to complain almost immediately about the conditions she saw.

However, it was the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals that finally agreed to help pursue the case.

Along with local law enforcement, they organized a raid on March 13, 2008, bringing in mobile veterinary clinics and dozens of people to help catch the hundreds of cats.

"It's unforgiveable this was going on for so long," said Dr. Becky Morrow, a veterinarian who helped with the investigation, at the raid and in the many months since. "The smell alone would have tipped anyone off."

Originally facing hundreds of counts of animal cruelty, Ms. Marie pleaded guilty in July to 12 counts, plus an additional two counts of tampering with records.

Assistant District Attorney Deborah Jugan laid out for the judge, in very minute detail, the number of cats -- both alive and dead -- found on the property and their medical conditions.

According to Ms. Marie's own records, the prosecutor said, there should have been 7,819 cats on the property that she had taken in. Instead, they recovered 391 live cats and 106 that were dead and stored in freezers. Of the live cats, 300 of them were malnourished, and 294 had some form of upper respiratory infection.

Ms. Marie paid a man with a Bobcat to dig mass graves for her on a regular basis, the prosecutor said. The last one was 30 feet long, 12 feet deep and 12 feet wide.

"You couldn't walk on Tiger Ranch without stepping on cat bones," Ms. Jugan said. "I often wonder if she told so many lies she started believing them. It's amazing how many people this woman was able to con."

But as she spoke to the judge, Ms. Marie said she was past the lying she had done. She had undergone what she called a "paradigm shift."

"I'm sorry, and I'm sad. I'd like to move on with a life that's different," she said. "I just hope I get a chance to work on me. I want to work on me."

Before announcing the sentence, the judge commended the prosecutor for her "extraordinary effort," and then turned her attention to Ms. Marie.

"I am tremendously disappointed that despite the opportunity I did give you, you have either chosen not to cooperate and [instead] spew vitriol in other people's direction without taking any personal responsibility for the disaster Tiger Ranch became," Judge Rangos said.

Ms. Marie interrupted.

"It is my fault, no doubt. I abdicate nothing. I take full responsibility."

Of the 391 cats that were rescued, 240 survived. Sixty chronically ill cats that cannot be adopted now live in a house bought by Dr. Morrow that has been turned into a sanctuary. There remain 50 cats that are healthy and available for adoption. They can be viewed at tigerranchrescues.com.
Source: Post-Gazette - Jan 9, 2010
Update posted on Jan 9, 2010 - 9:12PM 
The former caregiver at the Tiger Ranch Cat Sanctuary is in jail, after an Allegheny County judge revoked her bond.

Linda Bruno is still awaiting sentencing for her conviction on animal cruelty charges.

Animal control officials raided Tiger Ranch in March 2008 and found hundreds of diseased, dying and dead cats on the Frazer Township property, including some dead cats stored in a freezer.

Bruno, who goes by the name Lin Marie, eventually pleaded guilty to 14 counts of animal cruelty. She was scheduled to be sentenced on Monday, but she was supposed to have undergone a psychiatric evaluation before then, which she didn't do, so the hearing was continued.

The Allegheny County District Attorney's office introduced evidence on Monday that prosecutors said shows Bruno continues to have contact with cats, both at Tiger Ranch and at her mother's house where she's staying. Having contact with animals is a direct violation of Bruno's bond.

The new evidence comes from women who said they've conducted surveillance on Bruno since the day Tiger Ranch was raided.

"The litter at Tiger Ranch was loaded with trash. And there was some litter at her mother's house, and evidence of empty cat food containers, plates, whatnot," said Carolyn DeForest, who collected evidence against Bruno.

"Lin Marie, heart and soul, is to help a cat. Whether it's a friendly cat or a feral cat. Whether it's young, old, it doesn't matter, she cares," said Betsy Fajayan, who supports Bruno.

The judge told Bruno during her court appearance on Monday morning that if she receives one more piece of evidence showing Bruno has any contact at all with animals, then Bruno will have her bond revoked and she will be taken back to jail.

Channel 4 Action News' Tara Edwards reported that deputies returned to Tiger Ranch on Monday and apparently collected more evidence that Bruno violated the conditions of her bond.

Detectives showed the court pictures of dog food, cat food and feces inside the Tiger Ranch on Monday.

In court, detectives also said that when they arrived at the ranch after obtaining a search warrant, there were several people on the property and that one person appeared to be burning evidence. They also said they saw cats roaming around the property.

Bruno's attorney argued the cats were feral and didn't live there. But police said the people at the ranch referred to the cats by name.

After taking a look at the evidence, the judge ordered Bruno return to jail.

Bruno's sentencing is now scheduled for December 4.
Source: The Pittsburgh Channel - Oct 5, 2009
Update posted on Oct 7, 2009 - 11:03PM 
A Frazer Township woman accused of improperly caring for hundreds of cats at her fortress-like sanctuary has pleaded guilty to 13 counts of animal cruelty.

The plea deal was made after two-and-a-half hours of negotiating between attorneys while a jury was being selected for a trial against Linda Bruno.

Bruno, 47, was accused of mistreating hundreds of cats at her 29-acre property known as Tiger Ranch Farm in Tarentum.

She pleaded guilty to 13 counts of cruelty to animals. Each count carries a maximum of a $5,000 fine and two years in jail. Bruno also pleaded guilty to two counts of tampering with records, each of which carries the same maximum penalty. In all, Bruno faces a maximum of 28 years in prison and $75,000 in fines.

She also must pay $200,000 to the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in restitution for caring for mistreated animals.

The PSPCA said Bruno was incapable of caring properly for at least 750 cats at her 29-acre property known as Tiger Ranch Farm in Tarentum. Many of the animals were found sick, dying or dead.

Channel 11 News spoke with a retired veterinarian who was set to testify against Bruno.

"I had to testify," said retired veterinarian James Davidson. "There were some rabies certificates that were falsified."

However, Davidson made it clear he was testifying only because he had to. "She's a good woman," he said. "She was obsessed with hatred of euthanasia. She couldn't say no."

Bruno had been facing more than 500 animal cruelty charges before the plea deal.

Bruno was arrested in March 2008 after animal control agents and sheriff's deputies raided the no-kill sanctuary. The raid followed a seven-month undercover investigation during which a volunteer videotaped the operations.

Many were so sick they had to be euthanized after the raid, authorities said.

She will be sentenced Oct. 5 and could face jail time.
Source: WPXI - July 13, 2009
Update posted on Jul 13, 2009 - 11:09PM 
Linda Bruno, the owner of Tiger Ranch, a former "cat sanctuary" in Frazer, Allegheny County, was in court for a preliminary hearing Wednesday.

Bruno, who also goes by the name "Lin Marie," faces seven misdemeanor accounts of forgery and seven felony counts of tampering with public records or information such as rabies vaccination certificates for cats.

Bruno has been accused of signing a veterinarian's signature on documents and operating an unlicensed veterinary practice.

On Wednesday, Holly Wood testified that Bruno shot three of her cats with a rabies vaccine while they sat on her lap and handed her a slip with a veterinarian's signature.

Retired veterinarian James R. Davidson said he helped Bruno with a clinic in the past, but never at Tiger Ranch.

"It's a tragedy because I hate giving charity and having it go sour. I don't make any money. I am a retired veterinarian. I do charity work," said Davidson.

After holding the charges over for trial, a judge ordered Bruno not to have any contact with animals on her property or care for any animals away from her home.

"That's the hardest part. That's almost like being in jail," said Ron Valasek, Bruno's attorney.

Investigators said the conditions inside the ranch were deplorable when they raided it in March 2008.

More than 600 diseased, dying and dead cats were found throughout the property.

In May, Bruno was ordered to stand trial on more than 500 animal cruelty charges.

Bruno has maintained her innocence, saying the ranch was a no-kill shelter.

"This is a no-kill facility. Yes, there are horrible videos out there and, yes, those cats were in those kinds of conditions, but they were isolated and they were treated independently," said Valasek. "Remember, there's a difference between no-kill and kill shelters. Of course they're going to find animals there that are in bad shape. They're put there to die. They're put there where no one else will take then and nobody else will care for them."
Source: MSNBC - Jan 8, 2009
Update posted on Jan 8, 2009 - 6:24PM 
Prosecutors have issued more charges against Linda Bruno, the embattled owner of the now-defunct cat sanctuary known as Tiger Ranch in Frazer.

On March 13, police and humane officers from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals raided the ranch to reveal more than 600 diseased, dying and dead felines, which resulted in previous charges including 604 counts of cruelty to animals.

Those included misdemeanor counts of willfully and maliciously killing, maiming, mutilating, torturing or disfiguring a cat, as well as summary counts of cruelly ill-treating, beating, or otherwise abusing an animal, or neglecting the animal from care, food, water, clean shelter and veterinary care.

More charges were filed separately Thursday against Bruno, 45, who also goes by Lin Marie.

The new charges include seven felony counts of tampering with public records -- namely rabies vaccination certificates for cats. There also are 10 misdemeanor charges: seven counts of forgery for allegedly signing a veterinarian's signature on the documents and three for allegedly operating an unlicensed veterinary practice.

Bruno did not return a phone call placed to her home late Friday. Her home answering machine still greets callers with "Hello! Thank you for calling Tiger Ranch."

Her attorney, Ron Valasek, referred to the charges as "overkill," and said they won't change his client's all-encompassing plea of not guilty.

"Our response will be to vehemently deny any wrongdoing on the behalf of Lin Marie Bruno," he said. "It's very simple. We've maintained that from the beginning. At this point, it just seems the district attorney is just trying to overwhelm her with complaints."

The new criminal complaint identifies the veterinarian whose signature was forged as James Davidson, and alleges that while he was previously involved with Tiger Ranch, he stopped frequenting the place -- and signing its documents -- sometime before the forgery was committed.

Davidson told investigators he had held a vaccinating fundraiser at the Allegheny Township municipal building for Tiger Ranch, and that after the clinic was over, Bruno took the rest of the vaccination supplies home with her, since she had paid for them.

He also visited the place several times to give Bruno advice, but had never treated or vaccinated any animals for Tiger Ranch there or off-site.

Davidson could not be reached for comment late Friday.

The complaint implies Davidson's association with Bruno and her animals was limited and temporary, but her attorney said, "I don't think that's the case. I think his association has been from almost the beginning of Tiger Ranch through the raid. I'm not sure there's been any degradation of his services."

Bruno did not give inappropriate vaccinations to her cats, her lawyer said.

"I can tell you, (my client) has no certifications for the administration of any drugs to felines -- none of which I'm aware, but we haven't really had an opportunity to discuss it," Valasek said. "She has administered distemper shots, for example, which require no other certification."

As for the alleged forgeries, they didn't happen by Bruno's hand, Valasek said.

According to the complaint, Davidson told police that except for the signatures from one date, June 24, 2007, the "James Davidson" signatures in Bruno's records were not his.

Investigators also interviewed one of Tiger Ranch's customers, Holly Wood, who told them Bruno vaccinated her cats against rabies.

Wood brought her four cats to Bruno to be spayed, neutered and given their shots in August 2007. When she came back that night, Bruno told her they'd been treated off site, and later gave her records that bore what investigators say is Davidson's forged signature.

Six months later, the complaint states, she brought three cats back for rabies vaccinations -- and Bruno administered the shots to the cats there in her waiting room, while Wood held them.

According to the complaint, "Davidson was asked if he ever told (Bruno) that she was able to administer rabies vaccinations. He said that he never did that and that he would have assumed that she knew better."

Bruno's trial for the first set of charges is scheduled for Jan. 20 before Allegheny County Judge Jill E. Rangos in Pittsburgh.
Source: Pittsburgh Tribune - Oct 25, 2008
Update posted on Nov 2, 2008 - 3:20PM 
Some 260 surviving cats rescued about two months ago from a disease-ridden, would-be animal sanctuary are displaying strong recovery signs, according to the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

"You should see, as they get better their own personalities are coming out," said Wendy Evans, shelter manager for the Philadelphia-based PSPCA. "When they all came in, they were in pain, they were laying around. Some of them we had to force feed because they would not eat. And now that they're getting better they're jumping around, they're playing."

All told, 380 living cats and 106 dead ones were discovered during a police raid at Tiger Ranch in Frazer Township, which owner and operator Linda Bruno billed as a pet adoption center and Hospice. Since then, many of the cats have died.

The surviving cats are being housed and cared for at an animal shelter in Clarion that was closed in January, but was re-opened to serve as a quarantine hospital after Tiger Ranch was raided.

Many of the cats arrived at the shelter suffering from Feline Calcivirus, with conditions that included pneumonia, arthritis, Gangrene, Chlamydia, E. coli and damage to the central nervous system, according to a PSPCA veterinarian.

The Clarion shelter is making the most of its space, housing cats needing the most care in the lobby under close observation. The former manager's office is for pregnant cats or those that have given birth since arriving. Other areas are for cats on medication and being examined daily, and still more rooms are for the remaining cats.

According to Evans, the quarantine period for the cats to shed their virus is one to three months.

The SPCA has been contacted by numerous people that left their cats at Tiger Ranch, sold on the facility's positive online description, Evans says.

"They're crying, they're upset," she said.

Some of those former owners have visited the Clarion shelter, hoping to identify their cats. That's not yet possible, however, due to the possible spread of germs, and because the cats are still considered evidence in the case against Bruno.

"They're not even allowed to come in the shelter," Evans said of the former owners. "It's under quarantine, plus it's a court case. Once the court case is settled, then the cats that are in the shelter, their pictures will be put up on Pet Finder.

"And anyone who has proof of ownership and can match a cat that we have in the shelter, they will be allowed to get the cat back. There is hope that once the animals are released through the courts, that the ones that are not claimed by owners will be released for adoption."

Charges against Bruno include animal cruelty, abuse and neglect.
Source: Zootoo.com - May 9, 2008
Update posted on May 28, 2008 - 4:36PM 
The operator of the Tiger Ranch cat shelter today was ordered to stand trial on animal abuse charges stemming from a raid on her Frazer farm.

Linda Bruno, 45, is accused of keeping hundreds of cats at the sanctuary, many of them sick and dying.

District Judge Suzanne Blaschak made the ruling in the third day of a preliminary hearing held at the Allegheny County Courthouse because of public interest in the case.

About 50 people were in the courtroom for the hearing today.
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - May 6, 2008
Update posted on May 6, 2008 - 3:22PM 
The chief veterinarian for the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says he was shocked by deplorable conditions at an Allegheny County cat sanctuary. Investigators say they found hundreds and sick, dying and dead cats at Tiger Ranch near Tarentum during a raid last month.

The owner, 45-year-old Linda Bruno, of Frazer Township, is accused of failing to provide adequate care. She has pleaded not guilty to nearly 600 animal cruelty charges.

Veterinarian Dr. Ravindra Murarka says he never saw such conditions in his 17 years with the agency. Murarka says he developed bronchitis after the raid and had nightmares about the cats.

Bruno's preliminary hearing will resume Tuesday.
Source: Philly.Com - April 30, 2008
Update posted on Apr 30, 2008 - 10:18PM 
A district judge is hearing evidence against an Allegheny County woman who runs a cat sanctuary where authorities found hundreds of sick and dying cats in a raid last month.

The preliminary hearing Linda Bruno, 45, was moved to the Allegheny County Courthouse downtown to accommodate nearly 100 spectators, witnesses and media.

Bruno, aka Lin Marie, is charged with 203 misdemeanor counts and 371 summary counts of cruelty to animals stemming from both dead and living cats found in a raid at the Tiger Ranch in Frazer Township.

In court, prosecutors played audio and video recordings of officers telling Bruno that conditions on the ranch were filthy.

The only witness to be called to the stand so far was Allegheny County Sheriff's Detective Richard Manning, who described the building and properties on it as having "an odor I can't recreate in words."

Manning said the walls and floors were covered in animal waste and that it was hard for him to contain himself in order to do his job.

"I saw hundreds of cats in different buildings, running loose on the property, running loose in the buildings," Manning testified. "The majority of the cats appeared to be lethargic. They looked in very bad shape. Most were sneezing. Some were disfigured, missing patches of fur, missing eyes."

During the raid, more than 100 dead cats were found inside freezers, and many more were found in need of medical care elsewhere on the grounds, according to the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Bruno said she kept the cats in the freezer because the cold ground prevented her from burying them.

"God says he never forsakes the righteous," said Bruno, who has pleaded not guilty. "I feel good, and I'm going to tell the truth and have faith in my God, and that's all I can do."

Undercover video that was shot at Tiger Ranch and obtained by Team 4 shows dead and apparently sick cats throughout the property.

Bruno said somebody planted the animals in specific locations and moved them from the medical treatment area to another part of the compound before the video was shot.

Bruno has said she simply cared for cats that no one else wanted.
Source: The Pittsburgh Channel - April 28, 2008
Update posted on Apr 28, 2008 - 4:09PM 
Charges of animal cruelty have now been re-filed against a local animal shelter owner. Linda Bruno owns the Tiger Ranch cat sanctuary in Frazer Township. She is now charged with 574 counts of cruelty to animals. Bruno was released on a non-monetary bond.

As a condition of her release, she is to have no contact with her accusers and must not have contact with, care for, or have ownership of any animals.

Bruno's preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 17.
Source: KDKA - April 8, 2008
Update posted on Apr 8, 2008 - 1:57PM 
Charges against Tiger Ranch operator Linda Bruno will be refiled Tuesday by the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office.

Ms. Bruno was expected to be rearrested this morning at the West Deer office of District Judge Suzanne Blaschak, after 13 misdemeanor and summary charges were dismissed yesterday because the district attorney's office failed to provide detailed evidence.

A spokesman for the district attorney's office said today that it plans to amend the complaint to charge Ms. Bruno with 371 summary offenses and 203 misdemeanors.

This morning, no one from the DA's office appeared at the district judge's office.

"I got a call from the district attorney's office today saying they would be there today at 11 a.m. They didn't come," said defense attorney Ron E. Valasek. "The judge let me call the district attorney's office and they said they now hope to file the charges on April 8."

Judge Blaschak scheduled an April 8 arraignment and an April 17 preliminary hearing for Ms. Bruno.

Ms. Bruno, 45, was arrested the first time after a March 13 raid at her 27-acre Frazer sanctuary by agents of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Philadelphia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

About 400 cats were seized as were six Percheron horses, a goat and some dogs and chickens.

After her first arrest, bond was set at $50,000 and she spent three nights in jail until she could post bond. She is expected to be released on nominal bond when she is arrested next week.
Source: Post-Gazette - April 4, 2008
Update posted on Apr 4, 2008 - 4:39PM 
A district judge dismissed 593 charges of animal cruelty against a woman accused of keeping hundreds of cats, some dead and dying, at an animal sanctuary, saying Thursday prosecutors failed to provide detailed evidence.

The district attorney's office said it would refile the charges against Linda Bruno with more specific information.

Bruno's attorney, Ron Valasek, told Gibsonia District Judge Suzanne Blaschak he was not provided enough information to mount a defense. The 208 misdemeanor and 385 summary charges, all involving animal cruelty and neglect, were not specific enough, he said.

"We have to be able to be prepared," Valaseck said at Thursday's preliminary hearing.

The judge agreed.

"I think we need more information in the complaint," Blaschak said. "The defense needs more information to defend."

Valasek said he understood the charged would be refiled Friday.

Bruno, who has been free on bond, was "doing fairly well," he said. "She's happy that they'll now define what it is they said are the acts that were committed and that was no where in the complaint."

The Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals accused Bruno of failing to provide adequate care for the cats at her 29-acre Tiger Ranch near Tarentum, about 20 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. Officials raided the sanctuary on March 14.

Several hundred live cats were removed from the shelter. An SPCA spokeswoman said 278 were alive Thursday and were being treated in a vacant building that once housed the Clarion County Humane Society.

"They're responding to treatment," Lisa Rodgers said.

Thirty-six cats have died since the March 14 raid and 66 had to be euthanized, she said. Eight kittens were born and later died at the Clarion facility.

Bruno has said she took in cats that other shelters would not and that they were well cared for.

"I am giving these cats a chance they otherwise wouldn't have. ... We keep the beds clean , the towels, the blankets, heating pads," she told KDKA-TV in an interview last month. "If it's summer, it's air conditioning; if it's winter, it's heating. Food and water , we feed canned food."

Bruno also defended not euthanizing sick animals. "Murder is not consistent with a Christian worldview," she said.

Several dozen supporters and opponents attended the hearing.

Al Merranko, 52, of West Deer, said he contacted Bruno about an injured stray cat in his neighborhood and visited Tiger Ranch.

"She is the most caring person I've ever talked to. You can tell in her voice there's a love for cats," he said. He described Tiger Ranch as a "rest resort for cats."

Dr. Carolyn DeForest, a psychologist from Sewickley involved in volunteer animal rescue work who helped research the sanctuary, said she was prepared for the possibility of a dismissal. She called it a technicality.

"The evidence doesn't change," she said.

A woman working undercover recorded video inside Tiger Ranch. The material showed cats with swollen or pus-covered eyes and other injuries, as well as a freezer filled with dozens of cat carcasses.

The raid also uncovered burial pits containing perhaps thousands of cats, according to the SPCA.

About 100 dead cats were found in freezers. Valasek has said Bruno needed some place to store them until she could get a backhoe so she wasn't constantly burying them.
Source: Philly.Com - April 3, 2008
Update posted on Apr 3, 2008 - 9:09PM 
When Duquesne University biology professor Dr. Becky Morrow and several volunteer students assisted in raiding the Tiger Ranch in Tarentum, Pa., on March 13 after months of undercover surveillance, they realized the extent of surfacing one of the largest animal cruelty cases in Pennsylvania.

"In almost 10 years of practicing, I've never seen animals that bad," Morrow said. Although reports vary on the exact number of animals that were found at Tiger Ranch, Morrow said that 406 cats were recovered, although initial numbers cited 600-700 cats were removed from the property.

Tiger Ranch also held nine dogs, eight horses, a goat and a handful of chickens. In the four freezers on the property, 106 dead cats were found. Thousands of dead cats are also suspected to be buried in pits on the property, Morrow said, but they have not been accounted for except by the acknowledgement of the skeletons and protruding limbs in the yard.

When the first 17 cats were found in an isolation room of Tiger Ranch on Thursday evening, Bruno faced at least 14 charges of animal cruelty. She was arrested and posted $50,000 bond on Tuesday, March 18.

"Tiger Ranch became the perfect niche for her," said Dr. Carolyn DeForest, a 2007 Duquesne clinical psychology graduate and volunteer for Voices For Animals, who described Bruno as a hoarder and sociopath. DeForest had been investigating Tiger Ranch and Bruno's case since last summer, when she serendipitously met Morrow, Voices for Animals volunteer Rebecca Reid and former Butler County Humane official Deborah Urmann at a conference.

"It was a perfect meeting of the minds," Urmann said.

"´┐Żand consciences," DeForest chimed in.

As disdain followed the mention of Tiger Ranch, the four began collaborating and eventually got an active response from the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PSPCA).

"The move had to be made," Reid said.

Tiger Ranch was run by 45-year-old Bruno (also known as Linn Marie), who used the 29-acre facility to house animals that other people had apparently given up on. Tiger Ranch, which was established in 1994, was intended to be a place where animals could roam freely, or live inside. The actual house consists of about seven rooms, about five outside dwellings and at least one garage. Some feral cats were allowed to wander the property and were considered to be in the best condition, Morrow said. Domestic cats were kept inside of the house, along with two of the dogs.

The sickest cats at Tiger Ranch were taken to a small plywood room in the corner of the garage that Bruno referred to as the "sick room" or the "isolation room." Urmann, Reid, DeForest and Morrow simply coined it the "death room." Highly contagious animals were secluded in the single-windowed room, which, by the time of the raid, was covered with soiled rags and excrements from the sick and dying animals.

Urmann did her best to contain her tears as she described volunteering in the garage while small black paws would reach through the crack between the cement floor and the closed door.

"For the rest of my life, I'm going to be scarred," Urmann said. "I learned that death cry and that look. I would hide and hold them and try to comfort them."

Urmann, as a former Butler County humane official, developed suspicions about the state of living at Tiger Ranch. She used to transport cats to and from the facility, but it wasn't until she was presented the opportunity to volunteer at the sanctuary last August that she realized the extent of the conditions at the facility. From volunteering on Saturdays over the course of several months, Urmann discovered "some pretty horrific things," she said. With Bruno's permission, Urmann gained unsupervised access to Tiger Ranch. She began taking a hidden button camera with her.

The video footage collected throughout Urmann's time as a paid volunteer will be offered as evidence at the preliminary trial on April 3; some has been broadcasted by local news outlets, including KDKA. However, Urmann has been heavily criticized because of the amount of time she spent as a paid volunteer. Urmann claimed she did everything she could, such as giving the cats extra litter boxes and blankets when she came, but if there were dead cats in the litter boxes, all she could do was remove them.

In various news reports, including KDKA broadcasts, Bruno claimed that Tiger Ranch was fully staffed with readily available veterinary care. She even offered her clients a large bound handbook on cat care for $20. But, Urmann stated that she could only account for about five volunteers, including herself. The volunteers played ignorant to the situation, Urmann explained, and are currently supporting Bruno and Tiger Ranch.

After a crew of volunteers, humane officials and law officers decided to overrun the property, voices screaming in protest and support intermingled with the cries of sick and dying animals that made up a small percentage of the thousands of animals that had come through the animal sanctuary. Some locals and clients defended Bruno, saying she accepted animals that were already ill and dying, although other reports claimed Bruno required the cats were to come in perfectly healthy.

"Good shape [at Tiger Ranch] is terrible shape anywhere else," said Steve Barrows, a junior Duquesne biology major who volunteered to assist with the animals during the raid. Barrows, along with the other volunteers, spent hours rounding up the 406 cats that were transported to Clarion County Humane Society. He also assisted the professionals in administering physicals to every animal, and euthanizing the ones that could not be saved.

Barrows and Becky Greene, another Duquesne student volunteer, estimated that they worked on 50-100 cats, saying that physicals for at least half of the animals were completed by the first Saturday after the raid.

"It's about the cats that are there now, but it's about the cats that died and the ones that would have died, [too]," Barrows said.

"It's one of the worst cases the ASPCA has ever seen," Green added.

Disease was prevalent on the site, including symptoms of virulent systemic calicivirus, which is similar to Ebola in humans, and characterized by inflammation of blood vessels and possibly internal hemorrhaging with a mortality rate of 40-60 percent in adult felines, Morrow said. Although there have been only six documented outbreaks of this strand of calcivirus in the past 10 years, Morrow reported that more than 20 cats examined showed symptoms of the extremely fatal disease. Because there is no readily available screening for the disease, Morrow is in the process of receiving help from researchers at UC Davis.

Volunteers said every cat was at least somewhat dehydrated. In addition, other felines suffered from severe muscle deterioration, respiratory diseases, and periodontal diseases. More than three-quarters of the recovered suffered from abscesses due to disease and/or injury.

"There were no healthy cats there," said junior biology major and volunteer Lindsey Nazarek. "Every cat seemed to need some sort of medical attention."

Now that the animals have been rescued, they will be kept in quarantine between one and two months.

"Because [Bruno] didn't separate them, she let the diseases run rampant," DeForest said.

Although Morrow, Reid, DeForest and Urmann have evidence of animal cruelty dating back to 2002, Bruno holds no previous record of abuse. Her legal record is clean, and the humane officials that conducted inspections of Tiger Ranch never cited her for mismanagement. DeForest, although she believes that the Allegheny County Humane Officers received at least two complaints about Tiger Ranch annually, acknowledges that the officers let the sanctuary pass inspection.

"They continued to ignore complaints and not cite her for anything," DeForest said.

"It's ridiculous that no one knew about this," Barrows said. "She was well aware that what she was doing was wrong."
Source: Duquesne Duke - March 29, 2008
Update posted on Mar 29, 2008 - 9:50PM 
Some of the raw undercover footage from Tiger Ranch is now available online.
Source: YouTube
Update posted on Mar 22, 2008 - 1:09AM 
A Frazer woman was released from jail on bond yesterday to await her hearing on multiple animal cruelty charges that have engendered intense reactions from accusers and supporters alike.

On one side of the debate, the raid of Linda Bruno's no-kill Tiger Ranch Farm exposed horrific conditions for more than 400 cats, some of which were sick or dying.

But Ms. Bruno's supporters portray the 45-year-old woman as a kind, caring soul who at worst became overwhelmed by the number of animals she had in her charge. They said that's because she never refused the sick, injured or feral cats brought there by shelters and individuals from Western Pennsylvania and out of state.

"She didn't abuse animals by any means," said Patti DeNardo of Cranberry, who got her four healthy cats from Ms. Bruno. "We would spend hours out there. It was almost getting to be more like a hospice for animals because everybody brought her sick animals.

"She didn't believe in killing them. Aren't we allowed to believe what we want?"

But Lisa Rodgers, director of outreach for the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which was among the agencies involved in the raid of the farm Friday, said whatever Ms. Bruno's intentions, the result was cruelty. She noted that 105 cat carcasses were found in freezers, a dozen sick or dying cats were discovered in an "isolation room" where they were put to die, and others were living in squalid conditions.

"She may fit the classic definition of a hoarder who wants to save and rescue every animal," Ms. Rodgers said, "but [there is a problem] when you start deciding how much animals should suffer, to put cats in a room and let them die, when you see that as a better option than euthanasia. Suffering cannot be accepted."

The PSPCA initially said upward of 700 cats were taken from the farm in the raid by police and humane agents, but Ms. Rodgers said the figure actually was about 450. The higher number, she said, was based on an undercover investigation by an inactive humane officer who began volunteering at the farm last summer. Some cats may have been released into the wild when Ms. Bruno caught wind that the raid was coming, Ms. Rodgers said.

Of the total number of cats taken from the farm -- along with some dogs, horses and a goat -- 406 are being treated and housed at a temporary shelter at the Clarion County Humane Society in Shippenville. Another 40 cats either died en route or had to be euthanized, "and the number is climbing," Ms. Rodgers said.

Lee Nesler, executive director of the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society, which was not involved in the raid, said her agency stopped giving cats to Tiger Ranch Farm in 2002 because its humane agents felt Ms. Bruno had too many animals, even if there were no signs of abuse at that time. She noted that there is no law that limits the number of cats a person can have.

Since then, Ms. Nesler said, her agency's humane agents investigated a handful of complaints about the farm but no abuse was found. The most recent inspection was in October.

"They once again counseled her about how many animals she had. I believe it was 350 at the time," she said. "If you continually take in animals and don't have the facility and staff grow at that rate, this situation may occur. If the numbers got out of hand, someone had to step in to help the animals. That's what we're all trying to do.

"I believe in her heart she believed she was doing the right thing. We would do it differently. Our belief is that humane euthanasia is better than letting the animal suffer."

Ms. Bruno's preliminary hearing is tomorrow.
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - March 18, 2008h
Update posted on Mar 19, 2008 - 1:35AM 
Deborah Urmann had heard the horror stories about Tiger Ranch Farm, that the cat sanctuary was packed with too many animals, sick cats weren't properly cared for and dead cats sat in the freezer waiting to be buried. But she needed to see it for herself.

So, she began volunteering there last August. Soon, she was working with three other women, building a case against the sanctuary. And in the fall, she started wearing a hidden button camera and secretly videotaping conditions.

Their work led to a raid Thursday night and the filing of animal abuse and neglect charges against the owner, Linda Bruno, 45. She is accused of neglecting hundreds of cats, as well as having perhaps thousands buried on her property.

"We had to stop the cruelty. What she did was cruel. No animal deserves to die that way, in a death room," Urmann said, referring to a room at the sanctuary where ill animals were placed to die. "She claims she's a no-kill shelter, but really she's a slow-kill shelter."

Urmann said cats were kept in the freezer until Bruno could bury them.

"There were many times when I would come in here and there were dead cats stacked on top of the freezer and I would see those little feet sticking out from underneath the tarp," Urmann said. "It's taken an emotional toll on me real bad."

The SPCA got a search warrant after seeing footage Urmann gathered.

Urmann said Bruno was tipped off that the sanctuary was being investigated.

"She said to me, 'Oh, I know it's not you, Deb, I've known you for years,'" Urmann said. Bruno fired another volunteer instead, she said.

Complaints to local humane agencies had gone unheeded for years, which is why they went outside the area for help, Urmann and the others said.

Lee Nessler, executive director of the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society, said officers conducted an unannounced search in October.

The officers told Bruno she had too many cats, Nessler said. But unlike in dog kennels, there is no legally set number for how many cats a sanctuary can have, she said.
Source: Pittsburgh Tribune Review - March 15, 2008
Update posted on Mar 15, 2008 - 6:37PM 
Animal welfare authorities have removed 200 of the approximately 650 cats at filth-strewn Tiger Ranch animal shelter in Frazer.

The Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said the cats will be taken to a temporary shelter being set up in Shippenville, Clarion County.

All of the cats are being examined by a local veterinarian prior to shipping.

In addition to the approximately 450 cats remaining on the property, there 50 found dead and 12 who were euthanized. Eight horses at Tiger will be sent to an SPCA adoption center in Danville in central Pennsylvania.

A Frazer woman has been charged with 14 counts of cruelty to animals, stemming from her operation of cat shelter.

Tiger Ranch Farm operator Linda Bruno, 45, who is also known as Linn Marie, was arraigned Friday shortly after 10 a.m. and sent to the Allegheny County jail in lieu of $50,000 cash bond.

An undercover sting Thursday night closed the farm at 160 Miller Road. Investigators found dozens of dead cats and others that are diseased.

Nearly 700 cats, nine dogs and other animals taken from the site are now in the care of a state animal protection group.
Source: Pittsburgh Live - March 14, 2008
Update posted on Mar 14, 2008 - 1:58PM 

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