BELFAST — A Unity woman was sentenced to spend 20 days in jail in Waldo County Unified Court Oct. 29, for the neglect and abuse of ten cats she owned at the time.
Anna C. Elander, 67, was indicted on one count of aggravated cruelty to animals and one count of criminal cruelty to animals March 20, after an animal control officer discovered three crates containing 10 cats that she had reportedly abandoned in a shed. In the end, only seven survived.
Those charged with aggravated animal cruelty are accused of:
“Manifesting a depraved indifference to animal life or suffering, did intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause extreme physical pain to an animal; cause the death of an animal’ or physically torture an animal,” according to Elander’s indictment.
As part of a plea, Elander’s charge of aggravated cruelty to animals charge dropped and was sentenced to 364 days in jail with all but 20 days suspended for cruelty to animals. In addition to serving 20 days in jail, Elander will spend one year on probation, must pay a $500 fine, and was ordered to complete 75 hours of community service.
Justice Robert Murray, who presided over the case, also made an Order Restricting Ownership or Possession of Animals, writing: “ “Defendant Anna C. Elander, having been convicted by her plea of Cruelty to Animals (Class D).... is hereby and forever:
- Prohibited from ownership, possession, or having custody of cats, or from having cats on her premises or any place under her custody or control.
- Prohibited from ownership, possession, or having custody of more than four (4) dogs, or from having more than (4) dogs on her premises, or any other place under her control.
The 10 cats, dubbed by their rescuers at the Miracle Cats, had been divided between three dog crates and abandoned for three weeks without food, water, litter boxes, or any way to escape their cages.
The Waterville Humane Society was tasked with caring for the severely neglected animals; only eight survived the weeks locked in the crowded crates, which were matted with fur, waste, and the cats that perished.
According to a video posted to the group’s Facebook page, they learned about the cats, Oct. 15, when they were contacted by an animal control officer who told them there was an unknown number of cats that had been abandoned for an unknown amount of time.
Those who received the cats had prepared fresh warm bedding, water, food, IV fluids, tests, and protective gear, but stated in a video about the rescue that “nothing could prepare [the staff] for the 10 cats that arrived in our care that afternoon.”
The cats were described as filthy, emaciated, and exhausted when they were removed “from the horrific dog crates in which they had been abandoned for three weeks, without food, water, litter boxes, or means of escape.”
One of the crates contained two deceased cats and two living, while the remaining six were divided equally between the two crates. Despite eight surviving the first night, one buff-colored cat, named Asher, worsened overnight and had to be euthanized after his lungs began to fill with fluid.
There was also a “terrified” pregnant black cat, dubbed Emmeline, and a “once beautiful Siamese,” who was missing her right eye.
Elander eventually agreed to surrender the cats after they had been at the Waterville Humane Society for roughly a month, according to the video, which ends with staff advising:
“The Miracle Cats are the face of animal abuse and neglect. Their perseverance and resilience is overwhelming. For all of the heartwarming, easy adoptions, there are stories like this one that needs to be told. This a true look behind the scenes at a central Maine community animal shelter. This story is why we’re so vital to the communities we serve.”
Erica Thoms can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org