By Michael Regan
Niagara Gazette — The homeowner of a house on Roncroff Drive where 50 cats were found in abhorrent conditions will not be charged with a crime.
The woman, whose name has not been released, was initially a target of SPCA officials for knowingly holding the animals at 155 Roncroff Drive where investigators found the single story home filled with urine and feces from the animals before the were removed by the authorities after complaints from neighbors.
North Tonawanda Police Capt. William Hall indicated the organization recently backed off at least one charge of animal cruelty after the woman contacted Amy Lewis, the SPCA of Niagara shelter director, who said that the woman did make attempts to contact the organization in late 2011 during a tumultuous time for the organization — which recently underwent a total overhaul in leadership after allegations healthy animals were being euthanized. At the time, the woman was informed that she would be required to pay $20 to turnover each animal.
The woman told investigators she couldn’t afford the fees and was dependent on a fixed income, while that policy requiring a fee in all cases has now been changed. Lewis said the homeowner also provided the cats with food in water.
The director spoke with an officer this week and decided not to press charges because she believed there was no criminal intent.
“We both agreed that this is a situation that could have been prevented from becoming as dire as it was,” Lewis said, of the homeowner’s efforts to turn over the animals.
Police and building inspection officials initially discovered the home’s condition after neighbors called to complain about an overwhelming stench. The authorities found one dead cat and another with a broken leg, while the majority of the animals appeared to be feral. They are now in SPCA custody and undergoing rehabilitation. Lewis said they will be put up for adoption.
One Roncroff Drive neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous, said that the woman appeared to live among the cats in the home, which has now been boarded up by building inspectors. The neighbor also said that many on the quiet street are worried about property values and other health issues.
The city is still trying to determine what action will be taken on the home.