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Kelly Hathaway appears in Pittsfield District Court to face charges of abandoning more than a dozen cats on the eve of a snowstorm in January. She had not-guilty pleas entered on her behalf.

Defendants in Cat-Abandonment Case Plead Not Guilty

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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Arthur W. Raney told police that he had helped Hathaway because he felt bad she was facing eviction for having the cats, according to the police report. He also had a not-guilty plea entered on his behalf. 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Two city residents had non-guilty pleas entered on their behalf in Pittsfield District Court on Friday for the alleged abandonment of 15 cats on the eve of a snowstorm in January.

Defendants Kelly Hathaway and Arthur W. Raney are both facing 15 counts of animal cruelty and have a pre-trial hearing scheduled for May 9.  

During the arraignment, Hathaway agreed to a condition that she will not own any animals as of March 25 and Raney agreed that he will not own any animals.

On the weekend of Jan. 28, more than a dozen cats were found on back roads in Richmond and Lanesborough. Over the next few days, rescuers, Good Samaritans, and first responders worked to capture the cats and bring them to the Berkshire Humane Society.

Unfortunately, two of the cats died and one remains missing.

The incident was investigated by an animal cruelty investigator with the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals with the help of police and animal control officers in Lanesborough and the Berkshire Humane Society.

The probable cause report states that temperatures ranged from about minus-6 to 28 degrees on this weekend and that the cats from Richmond had bloody diarrhea, most felt underweight, and all were mildly dehydrated.

"Not only did Hathaway and Raney abandon the cats in violation of General Laws, they did so in a severe weather event rapidly developed with extreme cold, wind, and snow," the police report reads.

"Two cats died and one remains missing. Without the quick response of animal welfare groups, concerned citizens, and public safety agencies, all of the cats likely would have suffered and could have died due to lack of proper shelter, protection from the weather, food, and drink."

Reportedly, Hathaway — who had a number of other animals — was asked to remove the cats from her apartment by the landlord because of the "offensive urine smell" and because the landlord was attempting to put the building on the market.

According to the police report, her neighbor, Raney agreed to drive her to the locations in Lanesborough and Richmond to leave the cats because he felt bad for her and didn't want to see her evicted.

During the investigation, Hathaway admitted that she owned 15 cats and was responsible for abandoning all of them in Lanesborough and Richmond, the report states, and Raney also admitted to his involvement in knowingly driving Hathaway to the two locations to do so.

On Monday, Jan. 31, a Lanesborough resident reported to the police that Hathaway had come to her on Friday morning with Raney asking if she would take in her 15 cats.

She said Hathaway later told her that five of the cats went to a shelter in New York and the others were split between two people and was evasive when asked the name of the shelter.

Police also obtained video surveillance in Richmond that showed a car similar in color and size to one that Raney has registered under his name traveling around the area where the cats were found by good samaritan Joshua Christman close to the same time.

After the incident, the Humane Society offered a $1,000 reward for information that would lead to the identification and conviction of the perpetrators.

A press conference was held in early March to announce the identification of two suspects.

Deputy Chief Richard LaBlond of the law enforcement division of the MSPCA reported that Hathaway and Raney are facing 15 counts of felony cruelty, fines of up to $5,000, and time in jail or prison per each charge.

He also pointed to the work of the public, Lanesborough and State Police investigating and aiding in identifying the suspects.

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