A New Jersey woman was denied entry into a diversionary program after an indictment on animal cruelty charges in connection with 26 cats, which were reportedly found dead or living in horrid conditions in her home.
Citing Monday’s ruling from an appellate court, NJ.com reported that authorities found the “severely neglected and unhealthy” cats in Jill Petruska’s apartment in 2016. In addition to garbage and overflowing litter boxes, they also discovered that some of the live cats were eating carcasses.
“The toilet bowls were completely dry, the cats having consumed all of the water in them,” the ruling also stated.
WNBC reported that authorities removed 13 live cats from Petruska’s apartment. They estimated that 12 had died but noted it difficult to ascertain an accurate death count because animal parts were littered all over.
Petruska reportedly claimed she was away caring for a sick relative but regularly returned to care for her cats. However, a veterinarian testified that some of her cats had given birth then ate their kittens to survive, according to the news station.
“These conditions surely did not evolve over a short period of time and belied defendant’s claim to have periodically stopped by the apartment to feed the cats or to have arranged for someone else to take care of the cats,” the appeals court wrote in Monday’s ruling.
Despite objections from prosecutors, a judge had granted Petruska entry into a pretrial intervention (PTI) program that would’ve allowed her to clear her criminal record if she met certain conditions. The conditions included not owning animals for two years, undergoing counseling, and completing 200 hours of community service.
While the appellate court criticized prosecutors for how they applied state guidelines regarding Petruska’s PTI request, the court found the trial judge’s ruling concerning since he refused to review photos showing the decomposed animals in Petruska’s apartment.
The judge also reportedly accused prosecutors of being “overcome by emotion.”
The appellate court ordered the case to go back to the prosecutor’s office for reconsideration. A different judge will preside over the case if it’s reintroduced to court.
[Featured image: Pixabay]