WINDSOR, Ont. - A southern Ontario man has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the discovery of 150 dead cats in his freezer and refrigerator.
Authorities say 155 dead felines and 49 living ones were found in a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Windsor, Ont., last December following complaints about excessive cats.
The apartment was also littered with puddles of urine and feces while autopsies found the cats had been cannibalizing each other.
Jerry Miernecki, 61, has been handed one year of probation and can only have one spayed or neutered cat at any time for the rest of his life.
Miernecki was charged with failing to comply with an order and permitting cats to be in distress under the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
Windsor-Essex County Humane Society director Melanie Coulter said she's pleased about the lifetime ban on Miernecki owning more than one cat, but added that she doesn't believe he had malicious intentions.
"He told our officers that he was keeping the cats in the freezer because he wanted to bury the family together when he had a house. It was not a case where he didn't care about them," she said.
"In mental health and hoarding cases, people don't behave rationally."
Humane society officers removed the 49 living cats from the small apartment.
Some have since been adopted, others have been euthanized for serious behavioural or medical reasons, while two of them are still looking for a home.
Some of the felines had a strain of a serious respiratory illness that Coulter said possibly caused the death of many kittens. The close living conditions of the mostly interrelated cats could have worsened the spread of the disease.
"Certainly they weren't living in healthy conditions," she said. "We believe the lifetime ban will hopefully help to ensure that it never happens again."
(The Canadian Press, CKLW)