In a hearing on October 20, 2016, Heather and Michael Risko accepted plea deals in the deaths of 12 kittens and the rescue of 40 starved cats seized in May from the filthy Brookline home they’d abandoned, leaving the cats locked inside the house.
They agreed to pay a total of $3,000 in restitution to the Homeless Cat Management Team which rescued the cats and took 35 of them into their care. HCMT spent about $10,000 in medical costs to rehabilitate the malnourished cats, some of them close to death when rescued, and provided foster homes, spay/neuter surgeries and vaccinations prior to adopting them to loving forever homes.
Heather Risko pled guilty to two summary counts of animal cruelty and two misdemeanor offenses. Michael pled guilty to one summary count of animal cruelty. Both were charged with one count of rabies law violation, one count of harboring a nuisance, and one count of having more than five animals in city limits. The Riskos will not serve jail time and Heather is not permitted to own any animals.
Over 30 of the cats have been adopted, several by their foster families. Taking 35 cats in need of medical care was a big step for all-volunteer HCMT but the group came together to care for the cats from the first weeks when many were in cages at the clinic through the months of recovery and socialization.
HCMT would also like to thank Officers Christine Luffey and Tracy Schweitzer who responded when rescuers saw the condition of the house and the number of cats and called police.
Hoarding and neglect situations like this can happen anywhere and animals suffer no matter the situation. Keep watch, ask questions if you think you see a situation developing. You may find someone who only needs help and doesn’t know where to find it, or you may find a situation where animals and even people need to be removed. In either case, the animals will thank you for their rescue. Also look to your state’s humane laws to ensure that people suffer real consequences if they neglect and abuse animals in this way.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette covered the hearing.
Click here to read the original story. Now that the investigation and hearings are over, we can show photos of the condition of the house, which I’ve added to that original story.
Read more Rescue Stories on The Creative Cat.
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