41 cats res­cued; hun­dreds of charges filed in an­i­mal cru­elty case

The Morning Call - - LOCAL / STATE NEWS - By Christina Sut­tles

AM­BRIDGE , Beaver County — Two peo­ple are fac­ing more than 400 charges af­ter 41 cats were re­moved from an Am­bridge home last week.

Joseph Stick­les, 46, and Melissa Stick­les, 38, are charged with mul­ti­ple counts of ag­gra­vated cru­elty to an­i­mals — a felony — af­ter the Beaver County Hu­mane So­ci­ety seized dozens of cats from “de­plorable” con­di­tions this month.

Of­fi­cers searched the home af­ter re­ceiv­ing an anony­mous tip from a neigh­bor who be­lieved there to be at least six cats in­side.

The home was lit­tered with fe­ces and cov­ered in fleas, of­fi­cers said in a crim­i­nal com­plaint. An “un­bear­able” odor re­quired the use of masks.

Dozens of cats and kit­tens were found liv­ing in the base­ment without food or wa­ter with urine and fe­ces lin­ing the floor. Three were found dead, two of which were badly de­com­posed.

The Stick­les also are fac­ing charges of an­i­mal ne­glect and an­i­mal cru­elty.

Su­san Sal­yards, Hu­mane So­ci­ety ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor, said the Aug. 14 res­cue was the sec­ond in re­cent weeks.

On July 23, 19 dogs — most of them pup­pies — were re­moved from a hoard­ing sit­u­a­tion in Free­dom, she said.

Dogs were flea-bit­ten and liv­ing in their own fe­ces but were not mal­nour­ished, she said. All are be­ing med­i­cally eval­u­ated.

Five adult dogs, in­clud­ing two fe­males that re­cently birthed lit­ters of six and eight, were res­cued. The dogs are a mix of shep­herd, husky and elkhound.

“The liv­ing con­di­tions were de­plorable,” said Donna Bucek, Hu­mane So­ci­ety as­so­ciate direc­tor. “An­i­mals should not have been housed there.”

The state dog war­den, act­ing on com­plaints from neigh­bors, no­ti­fied Celina Kelly, the lo­cal hu­mane of­fi­cer, who in­ves­ti­gated.

The Hu­mane So­ci­ety also re­ceived a call from an anony­mous source, Sal­yards said, to in­ves­ti­gate the Am­bridge home, where the caller re­ported see­ing at least six cats.

The past cou­ple of weeks, how­ever, neigh­bors had not seen any­one at the house, Kelly said.

No one an­swered when Kelly vis­ited the first time nor re­sponded to posted in­for­ma­tion to con­tact the Hu­mane So­ci­ety. A search war­rant was ob­tained Wednes­day, Sal­yards said.

“When the of­fi­cer opened a base­ment door, 41 cats came stream­ing out of the house. It prob­a­bly was a sur­real site,” she said.

The cats, mal­nour­ished and “ex­tremely flea-rid­den,” Sal­yards said, will be quar­an­tined for at least 10 days — typ­i­cal when liv­ing in a hoard­ing sit­u­a­tion — as they are be­ing as­sessed. She de­scribed them as “nice cats,” not shy or feral as ini­tially thought.

The an­i­mals are now healthy and ready for adop­tion. Any­one in­ter­ested can call the Hu­mane So­ci­ety shel­ter at 724-775-5801, ext. 114.

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