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MAHONING VALLEY Animal rescuer charged



Published: Fri, April 19, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The operator of the animal rescue group doesn't adopt cats to anyone 70 or older, police said.

By PATRICIA MEADE

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

COITSVILLE -- Roxie has been cat-napped.

JoAnn E. Barrows, the operator of Second Chance Animal Rescue, has been charged with the crime. Police said Barrows alleges she was deceived by the Lowellville woman who adopted Roxie, an 18-month-old, gray and white female cat with green eyes.

Charges of theft and criminal trespassing were filed in Campbell Municipal Court against Barrows, of Silica Road, Austintown. Campbell Law Director Brian Macala said she is expected to turn herself in and be arraigned Tuesday morning.

Her Youngstown lawyer, Robert Hartford, said his client will appear in court but couldn't comment further about the pending case.

Possible sentence

If convicted, Barrows faces up to six months in jail and $1,000 fine on the theft charge and 30 days and $250 fine on the trespass charge.

"I had hoped to resolve this without going this far just to get Roxie back," Macala said. "We've got a real problem with what happened."

Barrows, Macala said, is being belligerent and alleges Roxie has already been adopted by a new family.

Roxie's owner, Patricia M. Bestic of Stewart Road, reported the theft this week to Coitsville Police Chief George Hahn. Since Bestic only recently acquired Roxie, she had no picture of the cat, who has white feet with a gray spot on one foot.

Here's what happened

After seeing Roxie on display at PetsMart, Bestic adopted the long-haired cat from Barrows on April 6, and paid $95.

Bestic, who works three days a week in Youngstown, had set up a plan to leave Roxie on those days with her mother, a recent widow in her 80s who lives on Milligan Road.

Last Friday, Barrows and another woman showed up at Bestic's mother's house, asking to see Roxie. Bestic's sister, Jane Medvec, told police that when she went to look for the cat, Barrows and the other woman entered the house without being invited.

Medvec found Roxie curled up on a dining room chair and picked her up to show Barrows the cat was fine. Medvec told police that's when Barrows snatched the cat, saying Bestic had lied about where the cat would be living.

Barrows took the cat, leaving behind a check for $95 made out to Bestic, police said. Barrows could not be reached.

Restricting adoptions

Coitsville Lt. Allan P. Morris said Barrows claims she will no longer let cats be adopted by anyone in Coitsville, Lowellville or Campbell.

"She said she's not giving the cat back and swore at the prosecutor," Morris said. Barrows, who doesn't adopt cats out to people 70 or older, accused Bestic of being deceitful, Morris said.

The adoption form used by Barrows doesn't indicate an age restriction.

Even if Barrows returns Roxie, the wheels are in motion to prosecute, Morris said. "People become attached to animals like kids -- there's a lot of emotions involved here," he said.

Macala, who is very attached to his cat, said there would be problems if anything like this happened to his pet.

The law director said he doesn't believe Bestic got Roxie under the false pretenses that Barrows claims. Bestic's daughter, he said, had already bonded with the cat.

meade@vindy.com




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