Jan Van Dusen, an Oakland attorney known for rescuing feral cats, may spend three years in prison for felony animal cruelty, reports NBC Bay Area
Van Dusen, 62, was found guilty on Thursday by Alameda County Judge Gloria Rhynes, who opined that Van Dusen had needlessly allowed most of the cats in her West Oakland home to suffer from emaciation, diarrhea, parasite infections and other maladies, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Ninety-three cats were found in Van Dusen’s 1,500-square-foot home in October 2011 by animal control officers acting on a tip. Some of the animals were severely malnourished and in such poor condition that they had to be euthanized (see below), NBC reported.
“Things were mostly under control," she told The Chronicle in 2012. "They killed some of my favorites, which they had no right to do."
Van Dusen could be sentenced for up to three years in prison on July 25 when she returns to court. She declined to comment to the press on Friday.
Her attorney, Frank Offen, said he didn't believe his client should serve any time behind bars, reports the Chronicle. "It's my belief that she should get probation,"
An earlier trial ended in a hung jury. The felony decision by the judge also means that Van Dusen could be suspended from her law practice or disbarred, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Oakland Cat Lady Who Beat the IRS, Loses Her Nearly 100 Cats
(Posted September 21, 2012) Jan Van Dusen, family-law attorney and large-scale cat rescuer in Oakland, beat the IRS last year and won the write off of cat-rescue/care expenses, but she now faces animal cruelty charges for the neglect of her 100 cats, mostly former strays and ferals, according to reports.
.A series of complaints from neighbors about animal neglect and offensive odors led animal control officials to raid Van Dusen's 1,500 square foot home late last October, where they discovered 93 cats and two dogs--many suffering from ailments ranging from parasite infections to severe malnutrition. Sixteen of the animals were deemed terminally ill and had to be put down, while the rest were put up for adoption.
Van Dusen made headlines last year when her attempt to write off $12,068 in expenses for care for her cats were denied by the IRS, saying that such expenses were personal and therefore not tax deductible because she lacked letters from Fix Our Ferals (where she volunteered) acknowledging the deductions benefited the non-profit
The former family law attorney took the IRS to court and won the right to deduct the vast majority of her animal care costs.
(January 21, 2012 – Animal Hoading: No Kill or Helping That Hurts?)