A longtime Persian cat breeder in Springfield, Oregon, has been banned from owning any domestic animals for the next 15 years, as part of a plea bargain that led to her conviction for attempting to kill two Persian kittens by placing them in a bag and tossing them into the raging waters of the Willamette River last November.
Gould was also sentenced to three years of probation and ordered her to pay a $1,500 fine.
Betty Ann Gould, 62, was arrested on Monday, December 3, 2012, and arraigned on charges of Aggravated Animal Abuse and Abandonment. Bail was initially set at $4,500, and then was lowered to $1,500. Someone paid the $1,500, and Gould was released on Friday, December 7.
The incident that led to her arrest occurred on Friday, November 30, when Kelsey Higgs of Springfield was walking with her dog and spotted a garbage bag in the river. She heard frantic meows coming from the bag, and called the police. Kelsey also says she is an eyewitness to a woman in a red minivan dumping the bag. The woman was later identified as Betty Gould of Snowbunnies Persians breeding business.
According to LifewithCats.com, one of the main reasons the kittens were able to be rescued was that the river was high and moving very fast that night. After Higgs distraught call to 911, one of the four police officers who responded--even though he was off duty--is an animal lover and also an avid fisherman. The officer had the experience and ability to wade out into the rushing water and retrieve the bag without being swept away.
Lady Luck was also smiling on the two little Calico Persian kittens that evening because the bag got snagged on a branch, allowing the officer to grab it and save the tiny victims. The rescue was completed quickly enough that, aside from being very frightened, the kittens were not seriously harmed, according to the report.
After a veterinary check, Springfield Animal Control confirmed that the kittens had been neglected before they were dumped.
Because of the identifiable breed of the kittens, Springfield Animal Control Officer Brian Austin directed his investigation toward Betty Ann Gould, a well-known local Persian cat breeder, and a woman who ran a business his office had received many complaints about over the years, including that, many cats became seriously ill after purchase. Many died or had to be put down. The record of complaints provided valid and on-going information about Ms. Gould and her Snowbunnies Persians breeding business, according to reports.
During an appearance in Springfield Municipal Court on Thursday afternoon, January 24, Gould entered two pleas of “no contest” to misdemeanor charges of attempted aggravated animal abuse, rather than go to trial as scheduled next week, reports the Register Guard. By pleading no contest, Gould avoided formally admitting guilt but faced the same penalties as she would have had she entered guilty pleas.
Prosecutors from the city attorney’s office dismissed the two charges of animal abandonment as part of the plea deal.
Gould was sentenced to three years of probation, ordered her to pay a $1,500 fine and barred her from possessing domestic animals for the next 15 years.
“She’s not real happy about it but accepts that’s the way it’s going to be,” Gould’s attorney, James Kolstoe, told the Register Guard on Friday when he was asked about the no-pets restriction.
Gould also was sentenced to five days in jail, but will not serve any additional time behind bars because she spent about four days in a Lane County Jail cell after her arrest on Dec. 3.
Springfield Animal Control officer Brian Austin told reporters that he conducted a thorough check of Gould’s Thurston-area property on Thursday afternoon, and found no evidence that any cats were still living there. The city will make follow-up visits, said ACO Austin, to ensure that Gould continues to comply with the animal ban.
Investigators found an estimated 50 to 60 Persians at Gould’s home while she was in jail. The cats were being cared for at the time by her son, police said. Gould told authorities that she gave away all of her cats to breeders and friends in recent weeks, Austin said.
A very vocal protest campaign has been conducted by local animal lovers to discredit Gould and shut down her business, and a recent posting on Craigslist indicates that local activists are attempting to determine exactly what happened to Gould’s cats and to whom they were given.
A former client of Snowbunnies Persians posted on the KEZI 9 News Facebook page: “We purchased a kitten from her [Gould] a couple of years ago and later had to put it to sleep, it was sick forgot what it was called but it passed through mom to kittens our vet said the breeder had to have know of the illness and that we should call and talk to her. We called her and she was not nice about it and said her cats were not the cause of this. She refused to return our vets calls etc. A few day later we found out she was still selling the kittens from that litter all of which had to be put to sleep. It was all about the money…”
Jill Winans of the Willamette Animal Guild in Eugene, OR, said Friday that she was pleased to hear that Gould will not be permitted to own animals for the next 15 years.
“This is good news,” Winans told the Register Guard. “We don’t care about the ($1,500) fine or jail time. We just don’t want these kinds of people to have animals."
The two kittens rescued from the river by the police are now healthy and living with a family in Eugene.