In an apartment at Stonebridge Run, Thompson, a humane society police officer for the Bucks County Society for Protection of Animals, found 31 cats living in squalor, picking their way through trash and debris covering the floor, confined to using just two overflowing litter boxes. Five exotic birds – four macaws and a cockatoo – perched nearby, one so ill that it was euthanized not long after.
Now, the animals’ owners, Ann Reddy, 59, and Warren Muffler, 48, face a litany of criminal charges in a landmark case for the county: This is the first time that its nonprofit humane society has brought misdemeanor animal-cruelty charges against pet owners since state law was beefed up last June.
From November, when the animals were seized, to June, the Bucks County SPCA spent more than $53,000 caring for the 31 seized cats and the 12 kittens born to some of the pregnant ones since. (The birds were relocated to the Feathered Sanctuary Exotic Bird Rescue in Lancaster.)
The medical tab would have kept climbing had it not been for a civil case filed pro bono by lawyers at McCarter and English, a law firm out of Newark, N.J. Joann Lytle, a lawyer at the firm and volunteer at the Bucks County SPCA, lobbied under the Cost of Care Act to require Reddy and Muffler to reimburse the shelter. A county judge ruled in the SPCA’s favor, ordering the couple to pay.
When the two didn’t make an effort to by the end of the 10-day grace period, ownership of the cats was transferred to the SPCA. Lytle noted that Muffler and Reddy will still be liable for the $53,000 if they are convicted.