Riverside cat storeowner answers to alleged animal neglect charge

Posted at 5:42 PM, May 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-09 20:04:46-04

The former owner of Street Cats Rescue appeared in court on Tuesday to answer to an animal neglect charge, the same day the woman who first reported the alleged crime spoke to 41 Action News.

The charge stems from findings that investigators made at the store on West Platte Road last summer.

According to court documents, police discovered awful odors and 50 cats inside cages, some of which suffered from poor health, after a complaint reported animal hoarding inside.

Candice Walker was the woman who first reported the alleged crime.

On Tuesday, she told 41 Action News about her experience inside Street Cats Rescue.

“I walked in and immediately it's just smelly,” she explained. “The boxes are just dirty. One of the cats was giving birth, actually.”

Walker showed pictures she claimed she took while inside the store.

One image showed cages piled on top of one another in close spaces around piles of boxes, a laundry basket, planks of wood, and other various items.

Another picture shows a kitten with blood coming from its nose while one of its eyes is filled with blood.

“I was so distraught that I had to sit in my car for about five minutes,” Walker said. “They were so disorganized that they didn't know which cats were which. None of them had any identification."

Walker said she later adopted two of the cats but had to spend $200 on treatment after she brought them home.

“They had already had eye discharge when we brought them home. They started bleeding from their eyes and their nose,” she explained. “It took about two weeks for them to clear up and be healthy enough."

The court documents describe strong odors of feces and urine coming from the business, and cats being found in such poor health that they had to be euthanized.

Eight cats in total had to be put down, while more than 20 were found to be suffering from things like tapeworm and parasites.

Officers also said they found fire code violations inside the store.

The court documents describe how 39-year-old owner Susan Gabel was running her shop without a proper permit.

On Tuesday, 41 Action News caught up with Gabel outside the Platte County Courthouse following her hearing.

“I would never hurt any animal or knowingly do it,” she said.

When questioned about the eight cats getting euthanized, Gabel brought up alleged past problems with them.

“Those cats were in a foster before I had them,” she said. “I didn't realize they were that sick."

Almost a year after the alleged crime occurred, the store front where Street Cats Rescue once operated is now home to a barbershop.

On Tuesday, Gabel’s case was continued until June 27.

She faces the possibility of 15 days in jail and a fine if found guilty on the one charge of animal neglect.