TAYLOR, LACKAWANNA COUNTY, PA (WBRE) – Stray cats are a problem in many communities but what one woman allegedly did to solve the problem now has her in trouble.
Jennifer Oustrich of Taylor faces criminal charges after police say she used rat poison to kill at least two cats near a property she owns.
Oustrich is facing eight criminal counts in all.
Two of them are felonies, aggravated cruelty to animals charges, after a change in state law last year.
“That’s suffering when you poison them like that because they bleed to death. It’s basically what it is. I’m sure it’s very excruciating,” neighbor Jennifer Harding said.
The investigation started in July when a neighbor found several dead cats in the community.
The neighbor noticed several piles of dog food with the poison pellets in them and called police because she feared for the safety of her own animals and kids in the neighborhood.
Brittny Hufford lives across the street and just recently heard what happened.
“I have kids. I have a cat and dog myself. What if it was our animals that happened to get out or our kids that happened to get into it!” neighbor Brittny Hufford said.
In court documents, Oustrich told police she wasn’t trying to kill dogs and cats in the neighborhood but was trying to stop stray cats from getting into her tenant’s garbage.
“She could have called the township, she could have called the ASPCA, I mean Griffin Pond probably could have referred her to somebody to take care of the problem!” Harding said.
Oustrich lives several blocks away from the home where the poison was allegedly discovered.
No one answered the door at her home Friday morning.
Because two cats may have died from the poison, police charged her with felony aggravated cruelty to animals, a new law just passed last year.
Oustrich’s attorney says the wording of the law is vague and doesn’t indicate what animals it should apply to.
“When you have a new law that hasn’t been interpreted, it’s going to take, this might be the classic case that interprets that law,” defense attorney Chris Powell said.
Taylor police worked with Cornell University’s Veterinary Medical Center to do forensic necropsies on some of the cats that were found dead in the neighborhood.
Jennifer Oustrich was arraigned Thursday night.
She is currently free on $50,000 unsecured bail and is expected back in court next month.