Cortland Homeowner Involved in Animal Hoarding Case Seeking Approvals to Keep 50 Cats
Cortland City leaders are raising concerns that a property on Wheeler Ave. than has been the source of multiple cat hoarding and animal abuse investigations is now seek planning board approvals to legally keep as many as 50 cats on the property.
Cortland County Planners will meet this evening to review an application by the resident and owners of a property at 5-7 Wheeler Ave., to use a home there as a sanctuary and shelter for stray cats.
The applicant is 62 year old Eugenia Cute, the property is owned by owned by the nonprofit organization PurrFect World Inc. which purchased the property in 2004 to operate a spay and neuter clinic there.
In September 2006 acting on neighbor complaints and concerns that veterinarian procedures were being performed without a vet on site, Animal Cruelty investigators and police entered the home and found nearly 250 cats. Some of the animals were sick; 35 were either euthanized or died due to health issues.
The 2006 raid resulted in charges against Cute who lived in the home and was responsible for hoarding the cats; Cute and 45 year old Lisa Alderman who was the President of Purr Fect World were both charged with multiple counts of failure to provide proper food and water for an impounded animal, an unclassified misdemeanor.
The hoarding case was the largest the city and local SPCA ever faced, it costs the city and the shelter thousands of dollars to care for the cats.
Last June City Code Enforcement Officers returned to the property, inside they found Cute had collected at least 50 new cats, only one cat was found to be in ill health. No charges were brought forward in that case.
Cortland’s regulations do not preclude property owners keeping large numbers of animals as long as they are healthy, Cute is now seeking a variance and site plan approval to house cats on the property.
City Mayor Brian Tobin says given the history of the property and what it has cost the city, he does not want to see the site plan approved.
The County Planning Department is recommending that the proposal be rejected, planners cite the previous raid in 2006 as a basis for the rejection. County Planner Dan Dineen says there appears to be no changes in the facility, and warehousing cats in a single family zoned property is inconsistent with the surrounding neighborhood.