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Cat-shelter volunteer defends facility’s efforts

Published: Fri, September 17, 2010 @ 12:10 a.m.


Kimm Koocher, owner of the Cat Ladies Society, stands behind a climbing tree in the society’s empty new shelter at 2217 Mahoning Ave., where humane agents seized all 90 cats under a search warrant in a Wednesday raid.

By Peter Milliken




The controversy over Wednesday’s raid by humane agents at the Cat Ladies Society boiled over into Thursday’s meeting of the Mahoning County commissioners.

Dennis Roller of Liberty, a volunteer at the West Side cat- rescue shelter, said the shelter has a new, clean and spacious facility as well as a new ventilation system at 2217 Mahoning Ave., where the raid occurred.

In support of his assertion, Roller displayed photos he had taken Tuesday of the new shelter, showing its feline occupants. The cats there get veterinary care from Dr. Daniel Ebert, a Youngstown veterinarian, Roller said.

The no-kill shelter moved 10 days ago from its old location two blocks away to the new facility, where it was to have an open house from 3 to 7 p.m. today and noon to 6 p.m. Saturday. The move tripled the agency’s available space, Roller said.

Humane agents from Animal Charity removed all 90 cats from the shelter, mixing healthy and sick cats, four to a carrier, Roller said.

The humane agents inspected the old shelter in June but left without issuing any citations, Roller said.

“The old facility did have a lot of problems,” Roller acknowledged, adding that the old shelter was crowded. “They corrected 95 percent of the problems when they moved to the new facility,” he said.

The agents arrived Wednesday at the new location without a search warrant, left, and later returned with one signed by a magistrate, Roller said.

City Councilwoman Carol Rimedio-Righetti, D-4th, the Democratic candidate for county commissioner on the Nov. 2 ballot, said the shelter is in her ward and described it as a clean facility.

“When you rescue animals, and when you do what they do, you don’t get the ones that are in perfect health all the time,” said Louis Wolk, a Youngstown radio talk-show host whose on-air name is Louie b Free.

“You get the ones that other people abandoned, dumped and abused,” he said after interviewing society volunteers on his show Thursday.

Nikole Baringer, chief executive officer of Animal Charity, is scheduled on his show today, which broadcasts from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on WGFT 1330 AM radio and is live-streamed on Vindy.com.

“When you don’t kill them, you take everything,” including a three-legged cat the shelter placed in a new home last week, Roller said.

Baringer said her agents discovered sick cats and strong odors in the June inspection. Since then, Animal Charity has received numerous e-mailed complaints about the West Side shelter, she said.

In Wednesday’s raid, agents found sick cats with healthy ones, and sick cats that weren’t being treated for their illnesses, Baringer said.

As of Thursday afternoon, no criminal charges had been filed and no inventory of what was seized under the search warrant had been filed in Youngstown Municipal Court.

Also during their Thursday meeting, the commissioners:

Approved spending $217,333 in state funds to buy security cameras from Johnson Controls Inc. and install them in the juvenile court’s detention facility and probation department and at the Mahoning County High School, a school for troubled youths located in the former Sheridan Elementary school on Youngstown’s South Side.

Entered into a five-year lease-purchase agreement with Jack Doheny Service of Northville, Mich., for a street sweeper for the county engineer’s office at $38,454 per year.


1GPackwood(35 comments)posted 5 years ago

Be cautious when trying to manage the cat people and their projects.

Rather than trying to manage such projects at all, an alternative would be to involve the bird people in the political process started by the cat people.

And then get out of the way as did ... Burr Rabbit ... who knew to ...

Lie low and practice quietuide.

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2computer_rick(137 comments)posted 5 years ago

Always easier to bust little old ladies, than it is to bust crack houses...

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3Stormieangel(136 comments)posted 5 years ago

I really cannot honestly comment on the truth of the charges against the cat ladies. But I think it is wonderful that there is someone willing to take these abandoned cats. Yes, cats are a dime a dozen; there are many feral cats running around, which is truly sad. But it is wonderful that someone is willing to give these animals a chance to have a happy home with some caring individual. Saving some is better than saving none. What is needed is less expensive neuturing and spaying so that ordinary folks can afford to have their animals fixed and therefore, cut down on their population. It is so sad that children, older folks and animals are so defenseless against cruelty. I just hope this organization has done their best and will not be run out of business. I hope all the alleged negative comments are found to be false.,,,for the sake of these animals that just want to love and be loved, and yes, for the caring people who take them in.

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4Wapiti(139 comments)posted 5 years ago

Shame on Animal Charity for listening to peta and anonymous emails. Instead of offering the Cat Ladies a helping hand, they decide to close the competition down. That means more money for them and the lying thieves of peta. Never, ever believe ANYTHING from peta.

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5tracy0108(6 comments)posted 5 years ago

I listened to the radio program today with animal charities and for the sake of animal charities, I am hoping there is more to the story than what I heard on there. Litter boxes they thought were too full?? Sick cats in the sick room allowed out of their cages to walk around?? No written medical protocol?? Those seem like pretty petty issues that could have been resolved with some communication. I hope this just wasn't a case of overreacting on the part of animal charities. I am hoping they are able to get their cats back and open their new facility. The pictures of it looked great!

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6RubyGirl(22 comments)posted 5 years ago

Animal Charity provided no information on the following during their "interview" with Louie Free:
What specific illnesses did the abducted cats have?
Why would an animal be put down because it was dehydrated?
Why did they mix sick animals with healthy animals?
What animal training do either of these women have???
What charges are being brought against CLS?
Can a shelter be shut down because the humane agent doesn't agree with their adoption procedures?
If there were so many sick cats, why didn't Animal Charity release video and pictures of these socalled sick cats the same way they plastered the images of the abused/neglected dog found not too long ago? They played that case up top anyone who would listen. They are surprisingly restricted with info on this case.
Those women said so many inconsistencies I was left speechless. And not to mention, they said CLS charged people to drop animals off to them. I know personally that this is not true. I found a very sick kitten that they took without ever asking for a penny. Animal Charity also said CLS charged extremely low prices for adopting a cat but when asked how much they charge, they said almost the same amounts as CLS. The City of Youngstown pays Animal Charity for humane services... what a waste of taxpayer money. And at the expense of cats' lives. Shameful.

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7prodgodq(165 comments)posted 5 years ago


Your post reflects the size of your genetalia.

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8p15828(7 comments)posted 5 years ago

So let me get this logic right: Okay, there are some issues with odors and maybe a few sick cats. So the solution is to take all 90 cats and gas them. The same logic of the Warsaw Ghetto.

I am an advocate for the rights of animals, but ...these PETA people are often illogical lame-brains, usually with no understanding of what ecology really means, or any understanding of resource use and conservation. We live in dark times.

But hey kids, remember: Spay and neuter your humans.

Have any of you read the paper "Why the garden Club Couldn't Save Youngstown"? There's also a book by the same author. The gist is that various groups of people in Youngstown can never get along long enough to get anything done. Everybody... has mapped out their own sandbox and this particularly true of groups already in power. I am up here teaching in the North, far away now and let me tell you folks, not everywhere is like Youngstown.

My point is, Kimm is a big-hearted lady trying to do good work. Will anyone give her some support and help? What's being done to here is a tragedy. But it seems to be business as usual in a town that accepts corruption as a way of life and watches "The Sopranos" as if it were a guide to business ethics.
-- Doug

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9fixit(1 comment)posted 5 years ago

When I was born I had a nice warm home and a very loving mother that never let me go hungry . My Father was killed in a car accident .I had 2 sisters and one brother that I loved very much . I had a soft cuddly bed and many toys . I was very spoiled . I never knew hunger, never knew sadness, was never cold, .Plenty of friends to play with . I was happy . I thought no one on earth could be as happy as me and my family . One particular event was to change my and my families life forever . A big truck came to our house, and many people were packing and moving all our furniture. When they were all done , the people and the truck left . We all piled in the family car and then something very strage happened . My mother , my sisters and brother and myself were put in a big open field and our friends left us there . We waited all night .fore them to come back and get us . I was scared and mom could not give us any more food . We were very hungry . We found a hole under an old abanonded building and this was to end up being our new home . My mother started to give us very different food . It tasted strange but we ate it anway . I would dream of our old home and our friends . I missed all of them and I loved them very much . I never gave up hope that they would come back and get us . Winter was uponus and it was bitterly cold . iI was allways cold and miserable . One day a man came and offered us food if we would play with his toy . One at a time my family was leaving . No good byes , just gone . Finally I decided to play the game and hope I would be reunited with my family . I ended up in jail . I stayed in a cell for over 4 mo . This was terrible . I did nothing wrong . Why am I being punished . I did get a warm bed again and food . The guards seem to treat me okay , Finally a lady came and we talked for awhile . She asked me if I would want to live with her and I said I would . Thanks to the Cat Ladies I have a loving home again . I still miss my family but it is better because someone loves me again and I have another great home . My name is Ferel Cat . I am a cat .

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10quantumlmq(1 comment)posted 5 years ago

My mother adopted a beautiful cat (Belle) from the Cat Ladies in October 2009. Belle has been a blessing to us and we will always be grateful to this wonderful organization for saving her life and giving us an opportunity to adopt her.

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11angelic0ne007(4 comments)posted 5 years ago

I blame PETA. I blame Animal Charities. And I blame the ignorant people who called because they probably didn't want an animal shelter by them.

And like I often say...animals, at times, can be so much better than people. Stories like this just reaffirm that.

Now excuse me, I'm heading up to sleep with my kittens tonight :)

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12kimk1957(21 comments)posted 5 years ago

These cats just moved into there new home and they were stolen from it! The cats were SO happy to be at the new larger facility...then they were yanked away from it!!!!
My daughter and I drive all the way down from Kinsman, Ohio to do volunteer work there once or twice a month. There has NEVER been any type of abuse there! I LOVE cats. I own four cats. If there was ever ANY wrongdoing to these cats...I would be the FIRST to report it. There WAS NOT! I was there 2 weeks ago (out behind the old building) scrubbing and bleaching out litter boxes!
The litter boxes are cleaned daily, the cats are fed and watered daily. they are WELL cared for.
This is all bogus!
Please, help get the cats returned to the Cat Ladies Society to give them a chance for adoption!
Please let's put pressure on Animal Charity, even local politians to 'right 'this wrong. The longer we wait...the more cats Animal Charity might be 'putting to sleep'. Please help.....RETURN THE CATS!!!! Give them a chance to LIVE!!!!
Anyone ready to picket????
Kim K from Kinsman

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13JerryP(19 comments)posted 5 years ago

I work closely with a small, no kill animal shelter. I can say, based on first hand knowledge and experience, that running such an organization is no easy task. An animal rescue must provide proper shelter, care and nutrition for its residents and to me it sounds as though The Cat Lady Society strives to ensure it affords these basic necessities to the animals under its care.

As anyone who works with an animal rescue organization can tell you, the sum of all such efforts is to see a once homeless creature to be adopted, loved and cared for as a pet. I take great dismay in the fact that an organization such as Animal Charity which plainly states “Our concern, as always, is for the animals, and always will be. We are doing what's in the best interest of these animals” would act in a manner so seemingly obverse to its own stated mission.

“You get the ones that other people abandoned, dumped and abused” – this is the sad reality of working with rescues; caring for the animals which thoughtless individuals have cast aside. I do not know what prompted the actions Animal Charity, but such a knee jerk reaction only serves to further propagate the suffering already endured by the animals in question. Should the evidence to be offered by those who worked with The Cat Lady Society, including the veterinarian who provided care for these animals, absolve the organization from any wrongdoing (and I believe it will) then Animal Charity and its leadership must be held accountable for their actions.

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man"
-Mahatma Gandhi

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14starofesther(168 comments)posted 5 years ago


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15starofesther(168 comments)posted 5 years ago

All my cats are unique gifts from God!

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16starofesther(168 comments)posted 5 years ago

computer Rick Thank You

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