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February 27, 2013

Woman faces charges of cruelty over cats

By Joe Mahoney
The Daily Star

---- — SCHOHARIE — A 50-year-old woman who authorities say began boarding unwanted pets only to see her affection for pets spiral out of control is now facing animal cruelty charges after scores of cats were seized from her home and the bodies of dozens more were found crammed in her freezer.

Irene Van Dyke of State Route 146 in the town of Wright is slated to be arraigned on the charges March 11 in Wright Town Court, Schoharie County Sheriff Tony Desmond said.

The sheriff said the 99 sickly and malnourished cats seized from Van Dyke’s home in January have been nursed back to good health at the Animal Shelter of Schoharie Valley, and many are available for adoption.

The shelter can be reached by calling 518-296-8390.

In addition to the cats that were seized, the bodies of 67 cats were found wrapped individually in plastic in the freezer compartment of Van Dyke’s refrigerator, authorities said.

Said Desmond: “I certainly hope the cats still at the shelter can find good homes. I’m glad the kittens are getting better now. They will make good pets for nice families.”

As for Van Dyke, he said: “The lady will be going to court, and I hope the outcome is such that she will get the help she needs. I hope there will be conditions on her so she can’t have more than one or two animals.”

People who start out owning a small number of pets and keep bringing more into their homes can quickly become overwhelmed, Desmond cautioned.

“If anyone finds themselves getting overwhelmed, I would encourage them to call someone and tell them they need help,” he said. “We will do what we can to help them out and make sure the animals are taken care of.”