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Cat Ladies, city settle; shelter to reopen today

Published: Mon, November 1, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Elise Franco



A settlement with the city prosecutor helped the Cat Ladies Society get its facility reopened without facing criminal charges.

Since mid-September, Jay Macejko, Youngstown city prosecutor, has been reviewing evidence on allegations that animal cruelty was occurring at the 2217 Mahoning Ave. shelter.

On Sept. 15, Animal Charity seized 83 cats from the Cat Ladies Society after completing its own investigation.

Macejko said late last week that he and Atty. Damian Billack, who represents Cat Ladies’ volunteer Kimm Koocher, came to a written settlement Oct. 25 allowing the shelter to reopen today.

The prosecutor said Animal Charity took photos of every cat seized, so he was able to see the condition of each animal.

“Everyone feels this isn’t a typical animal-cruelty investigation. ... There were allegations against an agency whose expressed purpose is to care for animals,” he said. “It seemed obvious that there was the possibility of criminal conduct. It was not an overwhelming situation, but indications were there.”

Macejko said the agreement stipulates terms the Cat Ladies Society will have to follow to remain open.

Under the agreement, it must:

Have no more than 50 cats on site for six months.

Seek individualized veterinary evaluations and care.

Only distribute medication per a veterinarian’s order.

Maintain the facility in a clean and sanitary fashion.

Submit to unannounced inspections by either the Mahoning County Dog Warden or Angels for Animals.

Properly isolate any sick cats from healthy cats.

Macejko said the Cat Ladies Society agreed to these terms, and the prosecutor’s office agreed not to file charges.

Koocher said she is simply happy to put the entire ordeal behind her.

“We’re looking forward to getting back to doing what we love most, which is adopting out kittens and cats into good homes,” she said.

Koocher said the past six weeks have been tough on all the volunteers, but they won’t dwell on what can’t be changed.

“We still will continue to offer the highest quality care we can to our pets,” she said. “We just want to go forward. We want to make Cat Ladies Society better.”

Koocher said the shelter currently has about 40 felines ready for adoption, which were cats and kittens that were in outside foster care during the September raid.

She said they won’t take in any new cats until the volunteer staff and funding are back up.

Edna Bailey of Youngstown said she’s been a volunteer at the shelter for three years and was devastated when the cats were taken.

“It was horrible,” she said. “I couldn’t even walk in here. It was very difficult for me.”

Bailey said she feels relieved that the worst is behind them.

“I sat and cried when I found out we could reopen,” she said. “Now we can do what we do best.

“It’s like a sigh of relief. I don’t know how else to put it.”


1kimk1957(21 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Where are remaining cats that Animal unCharity did not kill? Shouldn't the CLS get them back?
This whole AC botch-up will just be swept under the carpet. The public IS outraged and will NOT forget.

If 60+ dogs were stolen and killed because of upper respiratory infections and ear mites....I wonder how this would have ended.
I will NEVER donate or have anything to do with Animal Charity again.

I truly commend the Cat Ladies on the strength they've had to get through all this. Bless you for looking after Gods beautiful and loving feline creatures. You do a wonderful job. I've been to the old site and the new to see the work you do. Cat Ladies....you're all awesome.
Kim Kyle from Kinsman

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2leo(12 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Hope they can get their act together. My wife and I adopted two kittens for our daughter. One was dead within two days. We called Kimm and she said just come in and get another one. My daughter was heartbroken. We got another one that cost us $500 just to get well. Thanks a lot. Good job taking care of animals. They should have locked her up and thrown away the key.

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3poundpuppy48(3 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Leo, Kimm had a health guarantee and a lifetime return policy. Why didn't you call her and give her a chance to make it right? She would have. She goes way out of her way to help people and to help cats. Maybe you're just mad that you didn't take care of this with her in the first place and now you have to trash her instead. Kimm would never willfully and intentionally adopt out a sick cat.

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4leo(12 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

To Poundpuppy48: Kimm DID willfully adopt out not one, but two sick kittens. The veterinarian we took the second one to said this could have been cured with $10 worth of antiobiotics, if it was treated right away. We saw MANY sick cats there. We were told they just had ''kitty colds." Then within two days, one was dead. We explained this to the vet. He informed us that cats with upper respiratory disease spread it very quickly, kittens are very vulnerable, and that any respectable shelter knows the sick should be isolated from the well to stop it from spreading. This group of cats was all thrown together, some very young and some older. We DID call Kimm and got the response to just come in and get another one. We came in and got another one that, too, became very ill within 3 days. Her so called lifetime guarantee did not matter, since the cat was DEAD. Her complete lack of remorse when we told her about the first one dying turned me off. We did call and tell her about the second one getting very sick. No phone call returned. I am not out to trash anyone, but to tell the truth. Too bad she was not shut down for good. Those animals deserve better.

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5Werecat(75 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Kittens are very vulnerable to upper respiratory infections, that is why Cat Ladies Society does and did separate the sick from the well. Sick cats were always treated with whatever the vet prescribed, generally antibiotics and eye ointment.

There was a great deal of difficulty keeping sick and well cats away from each other in the old shelter because of the way the structure was built and because of the lack of windows and individual ventilation systems in the rooms. We worked like dogs trying to keep the place clean, medicate the sick and most importantly adopt out new arrivals before they could get sick. Not always easy.
Upper respiratory infection is commonly called "kitty cold", which makes it much easier to explain to potential adoptors.
If we saw symptoms of upper respiratory infection in a kitten we always sent the kitten home with medication and a re-check appointment. If people called us with a sick kitten we had them come back to the shelter to be checked via phone by the vet. If the vet thought he needed more than a phone description we'd send the kitten to the vet and pay for it ourselves.

I am very sorry for the kitten that passed away and for the loss your child suffered. I am not in the cat rescue field to cause heartbreak for parents and their young children. Nor do I want young kittens to suffer and die.
However, we are a rescue, and we tend to give first priority to animals that need help the most. You will find sick animals at our shelter and never see a sick cat at Animal Charities. That means one of two things - that Animal Charities veterinarians are capable of miracle cures or that Animal Charities' dumpster is full of dead animals.

I'm sorry I didn't wear enough sackcloth and ashes to suit you when your kitten passed away. There was no remorse because I didn't kill your kitten, I did my best to help it find a better life. I felt badly that the kitten died, it is always sad when babies don't make it. Just because a person doesn't collapse into screaming hysteria doesn't mean there is no feeling there. If I didn't love cats and kittens I would be spending my retirement years lounging and reading and watching movies instead of scrubbing floors and scooping boxes.

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6leo(12 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Sounds like a good story, paint yourself as the martyr here. FACT IS - YOU LET THOSE CATS AND KITTENS DIE. You keep bringing up Animal Charity. Keep the issue to the subject. The subject is that for whatever reason, you had VERY sick cats and kittens all mixed together, some looking like they were dying. Why weren't they AT the vet's office or in an isolated area? Don't know why - only you can answer that. My family was in your place three times, each time it was the same - DISGUSTING!!!!!!! I am sorry for any cat that finds it way to you. Euthanizing them is more humane than allowing them to lay there and die. Just remember, what goes around comes around. YOU ARE A FRAUD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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7Sassib(1 comment)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Leo, I totally agree with you. I also adopted two cats from Cat Ladies Society and both were pretty sick. I was assured that they were in good health, but when I took them to the vet they both had ear infections, ear mites, coccidia, upper resperitory and RINGWORM!!!!! I was sick. Those poor animals that were left in their care. They were trapped there. I also called several times and left messages. No one returned my call. The shelter was filthy, urine smell so strong you could hardly breathe. The cats all seemed lethargic, probably from breathing in all that urine 24 hours a day. I only wish I could have gotten more out of there instead of leaving them there to die a slow death. I was so glad to see that Animal Charity went in and shut them down and sick to see they are back in business - killing animals not saving them. My husband thinks there is something else going on there - maybe a cover up for something else. They do not care about animals or they just wouldn't let them get that sick and mingle them all together. We saw cats that were very obviously sick right in with the two that we adopted.

I also noticed on their website that the only cats they will be taking are cats from high kill shelters - what's that all about? Are these shelters in our area or are they going outside the community to do this? Why?? Something doesn't seem right about that either.

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8Happycat(6 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

I am so angry to see Kimm back up and running after the horrible way she treated those cats. I saw them with my own eyes. She is a horrible person who uses the shelter and it's funds for her own personal gain. One day she will get what is coming to her for being the cause of all those poor cat's suffering.

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9leo(12 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Happycat - I agree with you. I guess if you need money, it is a great scam. Take $250 - let the cats lay there and die. On the website, she openly admits one cat has corneal scars from an upper respiratory infection, but the cat can still get around. Treat the illnesses and the cat won't lose part of his sight. Hope this loser runs out of steam soon. Cannot imagine anyone with any sense would donate to her. The prosecutor said Animal Charity took out DEAD and DYING Cats. So, now I guess everyone is lying except Kimm Koocher.

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10mariposa(4 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

This whole situation is a real shame. People put animals into the hands of a shelter, thinking they are going to find homes for them and care for them while they are there. Then you read about all the dead and dying animals removed from this shelter. Anyone who had no choice but to bring their animal or a stray there must be heartbroken. I read about JJ, the 16 lb. cat taken into CLS in July along with 3 other cats for $1000. The previous owner called CLS to see how the cats were doing. She was told they were all adopted. She called Animal Charity after reading about the raid in the paper to verify if her cats were adopted. JJ was down to 6 lbs., had severe upper respiratory, sores in his mouth, abcesses and near death when AC raided the place. That is heartbreaking!! If someone decides to take on this task, THEN TAKE CARE OF THE ANIMALS! Most shelters do not even charge to take an animal. They make their money through fundraising. This place charges $250 a cat, then adopts it out and gets $50-$70. Cats deserve so much better treatment than they had gotten there. My Mom and a friend volunteered there in the summer a few times. They came back very upset at the conditions. Many cats were so sick that they had to put their hands on them to see if they were alive. They held one while it took its last breath. She said no one in charge seemed to care when she voiced her concerns. They never went back. So sorry to see CLS was not closed down for good. Thank you AC for stopping the suffering. GO AWAY CAT LADIES!

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