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Appeals court upholds woman’s sentence for treatment of cats

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A Fort Wayne woman who kept more than 100 cats between two properties in deplorable conditions had her sentence for multiple counts of criminal mischief and animal cruelty upheld by the Indiana Court of Appeals. The judges declined to revise her sentence because it was appropriate given her character and the nature of the offense.

Constance Anderson rented a property on Elmer Street in Fort Wayne that housed as many as 85 cats. She did not live there, but would visit the property occasionally to dump a bag of food on the ground. The home was covered in urine and feces and the animals even cannibalized their young. The air in the home tested in excess of four times the amount of ammonia typically found in normal air quality.

Animal control officers also found more than 20 live cats and 20 dead cats at the home where Anderson lived on St. Mary’s Avenue. All but five of the 108 live cats discovered between the two homes had to be euthanized. The conditions of the home led to the Elmer Street home becoming slated for demolition and required $13,000 of renovations to the St. Mary’s Avenue home.

Anderson pleaded guilty to two counts of Class D felony criminal mischief and five counts of Class A misdemeanor animal cruelty without a plea agreement. She received five one-year sentences on the misdemeanors to be served concurrently with three-year sentences on the felony charges.

In Constance Anderson v. State of Indiana, 02A03-1211-CR-495, Anderson argued the state should have considered her education and employment history, lack of criminal history, cooperation with investigators, her remorse and her mental state as mitigators. The appeals court pointed out the record shows the Allen County court considered each factor, but found none were significant. Her remorse was attributable to being caught rather than regret for her conduct.

Regarding her sentence, the judges noted her conduct “clearly exceeds the elements necessary under the charged offenses.” She caused significant damage to both homes and she knew the state of the animals because she left nearly 85 cats in the one house without adequate food and water and also didn’t properly care for the cats in her residence.

 

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  1. Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend in December, but U.S. District Judge Robert Miller later reduced that to about $540,000 to put the damages for suffering under the statutory cap of $300,000.

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