Monday, December 20, 2010

Palm Bay woman faces cruelty charges

By J.D. Gallop and Rick Neale, Florida Today

A 30-year-old woman remains jailed on a $501,000 bond after authorities found dead and starving cats locked in a closet in a Palm Bay home earlier this month.
Suzanne Fountain was charged with five counts of animal cruelty and one count of animal abandonment after Palm Bay police and animal control agents determined she was responsible for the cats found in Dec. 9 at a rental home in the 700 block of Corinne Avenue.
Michael McFarland, Brevard County Animal Services and Enforcement director, called the case, “inexcusable.”
“This is just an example of serious lack of responsibility for one's pets,” McFarland said. “This is beyond the pale.”
Fountain told police that the cats were not hers and that she had been set up.
The case unfolded when Brevard County Animal Services agent Denise Karlton responded to the home Dec. 9 to check on an unresolved complaint of an abandoned pit bull, officials said.
Karlton heard a cat's cries inside the home, McFarland said.
Palm Bay police officer George Santiago responded and entered the unoccupied house through a sliding-glass door.
The decomposed cats discovered locked inside a closet barricaded with a toolbox containing heavy tools, officials said.
They also appeared to have been partially eaten, officials said.
One flea-infested cat, a silver, shorthaired female, was found alive and in distress, police reported.
Someone left food and water behind for the cat, officials reported.
Police later tracked Fountain to another home in Melbourne and obtained an arrest warrant.
She was arrested at her mother's home in Palm Bay. She was booked into the Brevard County Detention Center on Saturday.
The surviving cat was taken to Palm Bay Animal Hospital and is now recuperating.
Fountain has a Jan. 20 court hearing on the charges.


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