Three sisters from North Clarendon who hoarded 51 cats that had to be euthanized pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges of animal cruelty.
Caroline, Eileen and Linda Generess each received a four-year deferred sentence after pleading guilty in Rutland criminal court to two misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals.
As part of their plea agreements, the Generess sisters were ordered to jointly pay $6,000 to the Rutland County Humane Society, which took in the animals after they were removed from the sisters’ home on Pink Rock Lane in August.
“Our feeling is, we are satisfied,” said Gretchen Goodman, the society’s executive director. “I don’t want to say happy, because it’s not a happy case, but we are satisfied.”
Eileen and Linda Generess have a history of keeping too many cats. In 2008, the Clarendon Select Board issued them a directive to collar and tag their cats or risk losing them. The directive followed complaints from neighbors of the large number of cats roaming the neighborhood.
In August, a deputy with the Rutland County Sheriff’s Department inspected the Generess home after a call from Roxanne Phelps, Clarendon’s health officer. The deputy’s affidavit described the conditions of the home.
“As I entered the residence, the smell of ammonia was almost unbearable,” wrote Deputy Milicia Lynds. “My eyes were watering and it burned my nose to breathe the air.”
In August, the Generess sisters each pleaded innocent to 10 counts of animal cruelty, stemming from 10 cats that had to be euthanized for being so gravely ill and in such pain. However, all 51 cats were eventually put down, Goodman said.
“None of the animals could be put up for adoption because all of them were exposed to feline leukemia and (feline immunodeficiency virus),” she said.
“This is one of the hardest cases I’ve worked on,” Goodman added. “It was a good resolution to the case, one of the best resolutions I’ve seen.”
In addition to the deferred sentence and the restitution payments to the Rutland County Humane Society, the plea agreements require the Generess sisters to undergo treatment for hoarding disorders.
Goodman thanked Lynds, Joanne Borbeau of the U.S. Humane Society, veterinarians Janet Carini and Peggy Larson, and Deputy State’s Attorney Rosemary Kennedy for their work on the case.
Donations to the Rutland County Humane Society can be made by calling 483-9171 or sending Goodman an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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