Northeast Times

PSPCA takes 239 cats from Frankford home

  • Removed: PSPCA workers wearing breathing apparatus spent 12 hours taking cats from two homes on the 1600 block of Fillmore Street on March 26. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTOS

  • Removed: PSPCA workers wearing breathing apparatus spent 12 hours taking cats from two homes on the 1600 block of Fillmore Street on March 26. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTOS

  • Removed: PSPCA workers wearing breathing apparatus spent 12 hours taking cats from two homes on the 1600 block of Fillmore Street on March 26. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTOS

  • Removed: PSPCA workers wearing breathing apparatus spent 12 hours taking cats from two homes on the 1600 block of Fillmore Street on March 26. MARIA POUCHNIKOVA / TIMES PHOTOS

The wo­man who al­legedly housed 239 cats in un­san­it­ary con­di­tions in a Frank­ford prop­erty will face an­im­al cruelty and oth­er charges, ac­cord­ing to the Pennsylvania SPCA.

SPCA work­ers wear­ing breath­ing ap­par­at­us spent 12 hours re­mov­ing the an­im­als from Lan­ie Jac­ob­son’s two ad­join­ing homes on the 1600 block of Fill­more Street on March 26 be­cause the levels of am­mo­nia in the yel­low stucco build­ings was so high it was un­san­it­ary for the an­im­als, said Sarah Er­em­us, SPCA spokes­wo­man. The build­ings’ floors were covered with cat fe­ces, and lit­ter boxes were over­flow­ing, she said.

It was one of the SPCA’s largest one-day an­im­al res­cues, she ad­ded.

Ac­cord­ing to the city’s on­line prop­erty re­cords, the res­id­en­tially zoned build­ings are owned by An­im­als in Crisis Inc. (www.lan­ies­an­im­alsin­crisis.org), which Er­em­us said March 27 is an an­im­al res­cue.

Er­em­us said the SPCA re­ceived re­ports about the build­ings and in­vest­ig­ated sev­er­al weeks ago. 

“The neigh­bors were not happy [about the prop­erty]. They had been com­plain­ing about it,” Er­em­us said.

She said Jac­ob­son earli­er had sur­rendered 40 of the cats, but then stopped. 

“She’s very bon­ded to the cats,” Er­em­us said. “She wanted to help an­im­als in need. … She’s a very com­pas­sion­ate per­son. ”

Jac­ob­son, who has a sign out­side her house that an­nounces the “crazy cat lady” lives there, didn’t take the PSPCA’s vis­it well, Er­em­us said.

“I feel ter­rible,” Jac­ob­son said of her cats’ re­mov­al. “I feel like I died.”

She said PSPCA staffers had been her al­lies in res­cuing an­im­als. Com­ment­ing on an­im­al cruelty charges, Jac­ob­son said, “I can’t ima­gine how they could pos­sibly make them stick.” 

Er­em­us said Jac­ob­son once had re­ceived fund­ing for her re­gistered non­profit. She had money to pay staff, Er­em­us said, but she some­how lost the fund­ing and couldn’t pay staff to take care of the an­im­als. 

Jac­ob­son, 64, said a phil­an­throp­ist she would not name had sup­plied her pet res­cue op­er­a­tion with about $200,000 a year, and then stopped donat­ing in Au­gust.

“I used to have a staff of six,” she said in a March 31 phone in­ter­view. She said she lost staff when she lost fund­ing. She also said she asked the PSPCA for help be­cause she couldn’t keep up with caring for the cats, who she said were all well-fed and provided for. Be­fore los­ing fund­ing, she said she paid for neu­ter­ing and spay­ing for thou­sands of cats. 

SPCA in­vest­ig­at­ors went to Fill­more Street on March 25, Er­em­us said, and found hun­dreds of cats whose ur­ine pro­duced the high am­mo­nia levels.

The cats were not con­cen­trated in one place. “They were every­where,” Er­em­us said.

SPCA staffers went back with a war­rant on Wed­nes­day, March 26, and began re­mov­ing the cats in in­di­vidu­al pet car­ri­ers, put­ting them in vans and tak­ing them to the SPCA’s headquar­ters at 350 E. Erie Ave. There were no kit­tens among the cats re­moved, and there were no dead an­im­als on the premises, Er­em­us said, adding the fe­lines had food and wa­ter. She said Jac­ob­son con­tin­ues to reside in the home. 

The build­ings had no cur­rent vi­ol­a­tions with the De­part­ment of Li­censes and In­spec­tions on Fri­day morn­ing, Scott Mul­derig, dir­ect­or of L&I’s Emer­gency Ser­vices Di­vi­sion, said in a phone in­ter­view. However, he said he was go­ing to send an in­spect­or to the prop­erty that day.

Er­em­us said the SPCA had made all the sur­rendered cats avail­able for ad­op­tion and hopes the re­mainder also will be put up for ad­op­tion once it has leg­al cus­tody. 

Jac­ob­son said Monday that some of the cats taken from her home have re­turned on their own. She said that some “out­side cats” come to her home each night to be fed. “They’re still com­ing,” she said.

To ad­opt a pet, call 215-426-6300, or vis­it www.pspca.org ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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