Cat abuse lands woman in P.E.I. court

Ryan Ross
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File photo of a Siamese cat

A flea infestation, piles of feces on the floor and a stench of urine so strong it could be smelled through a door were some of the conditions in a home that led to a woman getting a fine in provincial court Tuesday.

Valerie Anne MacArthur, 28, appeared before Judge Nancy Orr in Charlottetown where she pleaded guilty to causing a companion animal to be in distress and keeping them in a place that caused harm to the animal.

Orr fined MacArthur $1,000 and ordered her to pay $5,000 in restitution to the P.E.I. Humane Society.

Before delivering the sentence, Orr read from a veterinarian’s notes about visits to an abandoned, locked home in Ten Mile House owned by MacArthur where the Humane Society seized 20 cats, of which six were euthanized.

The notes said the cats were living in deplorable conditions and the stench of urine was so strong the veterinarian could smell it through a metal door. The society had received a tip about the situation last July and the animals were seized shortly afterwards.

Inside the home there were about 30 piles of feces on the floor and the veterinarian’s notes said the heat and smell were almost unbearable.

Some of the cats were flea infested and a litter of kittens in the bathroom had eye infections.

Although the veterinarian noted many of the cats were friendly, there were some with bite wounds on their face and ears from feral cats that were free to bully the younger ones.

Orr said most of the cats were underweight and had worms while some couldn’t be socialized and had to be euthanized.

MacArthur will be on probation for two years, during which time she will have to take a course on how to care for companion animals and is prohibited from owning or having a companion in her care, unless under the Humane Society’s direct supervision.

Orr also said MacArthur could work off some of the restitution at the Humane Society at a rate of $5 per hour worked, although it was up to the Humane Society if they wanted to allow it.

rross@theguardian.pe.ca

twitter.com/ryanrross

Organizations: Humane Society

Geographic location: Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • Ali
    January 17, 2013 - 10:20

    This woman is awful. I wish she would just go to jail to keep PEI a safer place. For people and animals

  • bob
    January 16, 2013 - 14:17

    jee should see the cats in dromore.

  • Disgusted
    January 16, 2013 - 13:09

    It should be mandatory for people that neglect or abuse animals to take a course on how to case for pets and in severe cases like this one, ban them from ever owning a pet. I''ve seen dog owners leave the dogs without water for hours on end on hot summer days, or throw potato peelings on the ground as their source of food, or locked up in a cage half the size of the pet for 12 hours on end and made to lie in their own feces and urine. People like that either don't have the mental capacity to feel any empathy for the animal or they are just treating them the way their parents have treated their dogs. Either way, it is animal abuse to the extreme.

  • Captain Canuck
    January 16, 2013 - 12:13

    Yes, I stand corrected. It was my assumption that she lived in the abandoned house too. I pegged her as a nut-job. Thanks for putting me straight - now I'm on board with you all.

  • Hereakitty Thereakitty
    January 16, 2013 - 10:35

    I love cats and I have one. One. Not twenty. You do not smell my cat and he is wormed and vaccinated regularly. This article is about the horrid cruelty and abuse that this woman inflicted upon these animals, not about whether she is capable of earning minimum wage doing a job she has already demonstrated an inability to perform.

  • Read carefully please
    January 16, 2013 - 10:34

    The article says the cats were in "an abandoned, locked home in Ten Mile House owned by MacArthur", she was NOT living there. She was running the cat equivalent of a 'puppy mill'. Purebred cats sell for over a thousand dollars. She should be banned from owning any pets.

  • Captain Canuck
    January 16, 2013 - 09:54

    Who are we to call this woman a poor excuse for a human etc? Look at the court, -sorry Justice Orr, but this woman was living there too. She needs help, not persecution. No where did it mention that the conditions were unfit for her, just unfit for animals. Think about that.

    • LA
      January 16, 2013 - 11:33

      Don is not known for being the most rational person alive. He typically goes completely overboard without a second thought as to the factual or balanced nature of his comments. It says the home was abandoned so I am not so sure she lived in it. But she does need a measure of punishment along with some help.

    • hmm
      January 16, 2013 - 15:46

      It says she was not living there! she is a poor excuse for a human, letting animals starve and she was likely selling them for money and not caring about their well being.

    • d
      January 23, 2013 - 22:46

      Umm actually I know val from hanging out with her and I was out there before and she hasn't lived there for months she had a place of her own they shut her power off and it was out of control and not very plesant she did love the cats honestly she played with them she is going through a lot and I know its no excuse for what happened she got what the justice thought was fair so its not worth fighting nothing we can do it was disgusting yes I never seen a place so bad but also she just was having help running the business then something happened and the main person of it left so she was stressed and she was planning on selling them but the cats were out of control and she had said also that she is gonna start over and finish the house and find the cats home and humane society came in the house before and see it cause I seen my self actually came twice and guess what they never said a bad thing ythey said ok looks like they are being taken care of and it was the same way so what was the problem its not easy to take care of thirty cats but I don't agree with the state the place could have killed someone the fumes and the state couldn't dare to eat there it made me sick

  • Marie
    January 16, 2013 - 08:42

    Why the ignorance of suggesting $5. an hour at the Humane Society???Minimum wage is $10!!! Could the judge not have ordered 100 hours of community services...many charities need the help....and then added some animal care & awareness help from the Humane Society? People neglecting children and spouses are not treated so harshly!!!

    • Chrissy
      January 16, 2013 - 15:42

      Its not for income, its for punishment and too pay off her fines! and a lot of the time people who neglect their children and spouses are treated more harshly and they get actual jail time! What do you think she should get a dinner for two? she should get jail time to.

  • don
    January 16, 2013 - 08:29

    MEME. how dare you call this poor excuses for a human a lady.she is not fit to clean out a pig pen. FLO. i agree with you. but if the Humane Society takes here on i hope they do not allow her to touch any animal in the building just clean the crap out. plus i would have made her clean the house she forced the cats to live in. and her face should be posted in every place that sells pet food.

  • Margaret McEachern
    January 16, 2013 - 08:25

    I am concerned about the comment that while "many of the cats were friendly, there were some with bite wounds on their face and ears from feral cats that were free to bully the younger ones." The cats were not biting one another because some were feral, they were acting in an aggressive manner because they were stressed from the conditions in which they were living. We care for a very large colony of feral cats who live together harmoniously because they now have food, water and shelter. There are no wounds - in fact, they play together now and groom each other.

  • hmattl
    January 16, 2013 - 07:23

    She should have been banned from owing animals for life and should have been sentenced to 6 months at least

  • dm
    January 16, 2013 - 02:12

    she got off easy, she should be ashamed of herself, and she's a mother i heard omg no........

  • terrible
    January 15, 2013 - 21:22

    All I can say is thank goodness PEI Humane Society received the tip and were able to save most of these poor animals. I don't now if locking cats up in an abandoned house with no food or water is quite the same as "hoarding" when they are normally living in the house with the hoarder.

  • MeMe
    January 15, 2013 - 20:31

    While this is a very sad case and this lady needs assistance with her problems. I do NOT agree that a judge can deem this woman worth only $5.00 an hour, half the rate of the specified minimum wage on PEI. A judge yes, but they do NOT have that right to determine what this woman is worth and by law she is worth at least $10.00 per hour, as is any person on PEI who works regardless of their situation.

    • Jeep
      January 15, 2013 - 21:34

      Who cares. She deserves it. If she wants more money she can find another job. She is lucky they are paying her in the first place.

    • Doneright
      January 15, 2013 - 22:11

      You do understand that it's meant to be punishment right? And not actual income.

    • LA
      January 15, 2013 - 22:17

      Clearly you don't realize that it is a punishment, not a job offer. And yes, they certainly do have the right to determine the rate. It's not a job. Get it?

    • Think About It.
      January 16, 2013 - 06:41

      The humane society is a non-profit organization with hundreds of volunteers who work there for nothing.

  • flo
    January 15, 2013 - 19:57

    People like this aren,t human.To treat a helpless animal like that is shameful !

    • Duh
      January 16, 2013 - 07:07

      Omg you people know nothing!! She not actually EARNING that money!! Its to PAY HER RESTITUTION!! Which basically means to pay off her fine! Its like doing community service, the lower the pay rate, the more hours she has to put in!!

  • Sylvia
    January 15, 2013 - 19:48

    She should be barred from ever being around animals again for the rest of her life. I can't think of enough of a severe punishment for this woman but I think jail time would be a start. I've watched TV shows about animals being rescued and what has happened to people like this woman when they get to court and it appears the punishment in U.S.A. is a lot harsher than in Canada. I wouldn't want to see this woman ever being around animals again, or for that matter, children. I don't know how anyone could treat animals like this. As a former cat owner of almost 17 years and a supporter of the Humane Society and Cat Action Team, I find this appalling and inexcusable. I'm completely disgusted with this woman.

  • intobed
    January 15, 2013 - 19:41

    Sort of reinforces the stereotype of a "crazy cat lady" doesn't it?

  • jason d
    January 15, 2013 - 19:33

    Waste of court time. She needs psychological help which is common with people hoarding cats. She won't pay the fine and will keep doing it unlesss she gets help.

    • catlover
      January 16, 2013 - 14:09

      Crazy cat lady, no... my guess looking to make a buck. If you search her she was selling a litter of kittens two years ago for 500 a piece. Guess what she was planning on doing with these cats more than likely. Punishment is not close to enough of what she should have gotten. Feel horrible for the innocent animals involved, and just as bad for anyone that paid that kind of money for a purebred cat that more than likely had huge vet bills for health issues! Puppy mills or cat mills need to be shut down! As for "working" at Humane Society, hopefully they have enough sense not to allow that.

  • don
    January 15, 2013 - 19:07

    that poor excuse for a human should be made live in the house the same way she forced the cats to live and be horse whipped.