Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Etobicoke Cat Hoarder Faces Charges

Officials who removed 30 ailing cats from an Etobicoke senior’s apartment in the latest of several raids are planning to seize more, an investigator said Tuesday. “Based on what the veterinarian is saying about the health of these cats, we’re trying to go back in to clean up the colony,” Etobicoke Humane Society animal cruelty investigator Jerry Higgins said. Volunteers, accompanied by police and a locksmith, entered the two-storey Islington Ave. strip plaza building after the owner refused to answer her door repeatedly and did not respond to “numerous complaints,” Higgins said. All of the rescued cats have contagious “upper respiratory infection,”  and some have herpes and neurological problems, Higgins said. Two were euthanized after being examined by a veterinarian, 10 remain at his clinic and the remaining 20 cats are being cared for at the humane society’s Royal York Rd. shelter — where they will remain for at least two more weeks before being declared healthy enough to be offered up for adoption, he said. Unlike most cases of feline hoarding, Higgins said the cats had free access to and from the building through a cat door. Identified by tenants as building owner Veronica Kunicki, the accused landlord faces a charge of permitting animals to be in distress. If convicted, she could be fined up to $10,000, be sentenced to five years in prison and get a life ban on owning pets. A city bylaw restricts residents to a total of six cats, dogs or a combination of both.  “The basement is full of cats,” said Brian Chiu, who for 12 years has owned the Asia Garden Restaurant near Kunicki’s front door. “Many times I have complained to animal control,” Chiu said. “The last time they came and took away 35 cats, about 2 1/2 years ago. “The production has increased.” Kunicki was not home when her cats were removed and there was no answer at her door Tuesday evening.
*The Toronto Sun