MIDDLETOWN, Ohio – More than two dozen sick cats had to be removed from Heart's Rescue Sanctuary and the operator is facing charges, according to the Butler County Sheriff's Office.
Five cats had to be euthanized.
"Most of the cats have infections and diseases and not all of them are treatable,” said Deputy Dog Warden Kurt Merbs.
Leslie Martin, 51, has been charged with cruelty to a companion animal, a misdemeanor, and there will be more charges, according to a post on the sheriff's office Facebook page.
Deputies and dog wardens raided the sanctuary in the Middletown Shopping Center, 621 Breiel Boulevard, after several warnings were given to the owner, the sheriff's office says. There were 49 cats at the sanctuary and 21 are still there under the care of different personnel.
“We gave Ms. Martin ample time to comply with current laws involving these animals, and she just didn’t come through," Merbs said.
Sheriff Richard K. Jones said his department tried to help.
“We tried, we reached out, and it’s a shame it has come to this. These animals were supposed to be cared for by rescue businesses. It’s the basis of their existence. It’s not a good day when my employees have to rescue animals from a place of rescue," Jones said.
Martin commented on the sheriff's post and disputed some of the accusations:
I will be filing a law suit against you for defamation of character and harassment! This is so not true! You guys lie and pretend to do the best for the animals, many people know different. This will all come out in court what horrible people you are! I was not arrested and no one has taken over my Rescue. The kittens that were taken were under vet care at the time they were taken. You guys really messed up by posting this!
Martin has a YouCaring.com page where she says she is trying to raise $1,700 to move her sanctuary. She says she discovered that the shopping center is not zoned for a kennel.