Miami pet rescuer jailed for starving felines – .

Miami pet rescuer jailed for starving felines – .

MIAMI – A self-proclaimed pet rescuer has been sentenced to 364 days in prison for animal cruelty after she hoards cats and left them to starve to death in her South Florida apartment.

Cheryn Smilen, 56, has pleaded guilty and will now be banned from owning or trying to save animals, the Miami Herald reported.

“You have to stay away from animal rescue organizations,” Miami-Dade circuit judge Alberto Milian told him in a hearing Monday.

Smilen fed the street cats every night and began to herd them inside the small efficiency apartment. Neighbors told investigators they often heard cats scratching and crying at windows, but they never saw Smilen. A horrible smell finally brought the police to the house almost three years ago.

Once inside, investigators found emaciated and malnourished cats, and bones littered the scene, suggesting some cats had eaten each other, the newspaper reported.

Miami-Dade Police Detective Judy Webb said in August 2018 she saw “dead cats on dead cats on dead cats.” The evidence suggested they had been dead for months.

“There’s no way she wouldn’t know this was happening,” Webb told the court.

The house was covered in feces and smelled of cat urine. The air conditioning unit worked, but was not on, the Herald reported. Investigators also found numerous bags and boxes of cat food stored inside and outside the house, but Smilen had not fed the animals.

“It’s hard for me to believe how cruel humans can be,” the judge told him, adding that he had found no reason to believe the cats had not suffered.

Smilen cried on the podium, saying “I know they did. ”


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