[Home Page] [This Week] [Classifieds] [Legals] [Obituaries] [Newsstands] [Subscriptions] [Advertising] [Deadlines] [About Us] [FAQ] [Archives] [Community Links] [Contact Us]

Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, April 21, 2011

Sheriff investigates woman with 117 cats

By Zach Simeone

WESTERLO — Janet Sharpley, 61, of Westerlo may face animal cruelty charges after allegedly hoarding more than 100 cats in her home, which had been deemed unhealthy for both her and the animals.

The case is being investigated by the Albany County Sheriff’s Department.

“Accounting for the cats she gave away, there were roughly 117,” said Undersheriff Craig Apple. “They looked emaciated, and it was obvious there was some respiratory distress, pus on their eyes. You can look at a cat and you can tell if it’s healthy or not,” he told The Enterprise.

Holly Cheever, a local veterinarian with a national reputation for prevention of animal cruelty, co-owns the Village Animal Clinic in Voorheesville, where three of Sharpley’s cats are currently being cared for.

“They did have parasites.” Cheever said. “They had fleas; they were not well handled; they’re all slightly underweight. So, I would not call these healthy animals.”

Citing the state’s Agriculture and Markets Law, she went on, “There was conclusive evidence that this is a case of hoarder syndrome. This does, in fact, empower you to obtain the search warrant to seize the animals.”

Gary J. Patronek in the veterinary medicine journal defines hoarding as a “pathological human behavior that involves a compulsive need to obtain and control animals, coupled with a failure to recognize their suffering.”

In March, the Albany County Health Department responded to a call from an anonymous source, who alleged that Sharpley was collecting cats in her home. The department gave Sharpley 30 days to convert her home into a safer environment. At that point, the department removed close to 50 cats from her home and brought them to various shelters.

“It didn’t appear they were going outside at all,” said Apple of the cats. “There was a lot of cat feces and cat urine in the house. It was obviously not a healthy situation for the homeowner or the animals.”

Over the weekend, Sharpley gave away close to 25 more cats, Apple said; on Monday, the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society removed the remaining 42.

“The [42] cats that were left in the house were all unhealthy, so nobody would take those cats — that’s what we’re figuring,” said Apple.

Sharpley could not be reached for comment.

At this point, Sharpley has not been arrested.

“We’re waiting for an evaluation to be conducted on each animal involved,” Apple said. “It’ll definitely be animal cruelty charges. I don’t think it’ll be anything above and beyond that. She lives by herself, no young children; she wasn’t jeopardizing anyone else. So, it’ll probably just be the animal cruelty charge.”

[Return to Home Page]