SAVOY-- Felony animal cruelty charges were filed on Friday against a Savoy man for allegedly running an unlicensed cat kennel that was so filthy, officials described it as hazardous.
Savoy Police Chief Stephen Dean filed charges in Northern Berkshire District Court against John F. D'Alessandro, of Griffin Hill Road, who allegedly was running a kitten mill and selling the animals online.
D'Alessandro, who likely will be arraigned on the charges next week, faces 31 counts of animal cruelty and 25 counts of failure to provide rabies vaccinations.
Carrie Loholdt, animal control officer for Savoy, described in her report what officials encountered on Jan. 31 as they responded to neighbors' complaints about the home at 4 Griffin Hill Road.
"When we entered the house the smell of urine and feces was so overpowering we all gasped for air," she wrote. "There was feces all over the house in piles. ... There was feces covering about every inch of counter top in the kitchen. There was urine throughout the entire down stairs of the house."
All of the cats and kittens were infested with fleas and ear mites, according to the report. They all also suffered from upper respiratory infections that were so bad, some of the felines had blood seeping from their noses and mouths. Many had severe eye infections.
The house, the report said, appeared to be uninhabited with no power or heat.
"I cannot stress how bad the smell of the house was and I have entered many unfit homes," Loholdt said, "but this was by far the worst.
Loholdt was accompanied by Savoy Police Chief Stephen Dean and shelter volunteer Kaila Drosehn. From the house, 20 cats were recovered, all of them suffering a number of afflictions, allegedly resulting from severe neglect.
Dean said only one cat came toward the people when they entered. The rest ran and hid. Some were even hostile to the humans.
"They were all skittish, and one was downright mean," Dean said. "Only one came right up to us. There was very little water, and not enough food to feed one cat, much less 20. In my view, they were obviously neglected."
D'Alessandro arrived during the visit and agreed to surrender his ownership of the cats, according to the report. They proceeded to a mobile home at 143 Griffin Hill Road, where D'Alessandro lives.
According to the report, D'Alessandro sped ahead of the officers and when they arrived, he was seen loading a cat into his car. Loholdt observed it was a cat that was about to be old enough for breeding. D'Alessandro apologized for doing so, the report said.
At the mobile home, officials found 11 more cats.
"All of the cats at this house were in even worse medical conditions that the ones at the first house," Loholdt's report states. "Their eyes were shut due to the lack of medical care and having upper respiratory symptoms."
All the cats were transported to shelters, with 13 of them to the Northern Berkshire County Animal Rescue. Since then they have been undergoing medical treatment.
During an interview Thursday, Loholdt said one cat had just had surgery to correct his eyelids. He was born with them "turned in" so they would scratch his eyeballs whenever he opened his eyes. So he never opened his eyes. Now he will soon be able to see normally. He is also being treated for upper respiratory infection, fleas and ear mites.
She noted that some of the cats would be ready for adoption starting next week, with some of the cats already posted on PetFinder.
Anyone wishing to donate to help with the thousands of dollars in medical treatments for the cats can get more information at www.NBCAR.org or mail a check to NBCAR, PO Box 611, Adams, MA 01220.
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