A town woman faces misdemeanor animal cruelty charges after law enforcement and humane society officials removed 52 cats from her flea-infested, urine-soaked home, according to police.
Margaret Romko, 52, of 3 John St., was charged Wednesday with five counts of animal cruelty, according to Colonie police Lt. Robert Winn.
Officials removed the animals April 14. Prior to their arrival, Romko gave away 14 other cats to a rescue shelter.
The Mohawk and Hudson Humane Society has the remaining animals, said Executive Director Brad Shear. Shear said a veterinarian had to euthanize three cats because they were beyond medical help. Of the remaining cats, all have respiratory infections and some had fleas.
Shear said Romko’s home reeked of ammonia, a by-product of urine, which likely caused the respiratory infections, and contained fleas. He is unsure whether the town will condemn the house or require Romko to clean it up.
The humane society plans to adopt out the cats once they have recovered. Pictures and information about the felines will be posted on the society’s Web site.
Shear said officials began their investigation of Romko earlier in the month based on a complaint from a neighbor. He called her an animal hoarder.
“These cases usually involve a mental health issue that needs to be addressed in order to prevent it from happening again,” he said. “Probation only lasts so long and recidivism rates are high unless there is treatment.”
Shear said the care of 52 cats puts a huge strain on the humane society’s resources. For more information, visit www.mohawkhumane.org.
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