MOUNT CARMEL -- A police chief in Northumberland County calls a woman the "poster child for animal cruelty" after he saw the condition of pets that belonged to her. And in an unusual move, the woman was sent to jail on $20,000 cash bail.
A condemned sign is posted on the front door of an apartment in Mount Carmel. Police removed two dogs and two cats from the home last week and on Tuesday charged their owner, Belinda Smith, with animal cruelty.
"I felt bad for them. They looked terrible when the chief of police took them out. The one was pregnant and the other one was so under-nourished. It was sad," Pauline Dunn said.
According to court papers, officers were serving Smith a warrant and smelled an offensive odor coming from the apartment. The door was unlocked and police went inside to check on Smith. What they found were four animals, emaciated and covered with fleas and feces. One of the dogs was pregnant.
Police say the animals were left alone for several days. When officers went inside the house they could not find any food or water.
"Once in a while she'd come out with them but then they'd be in the house all the time. I didn't even know there were four animals in there. I knew there were dogs but I didn't know there were cats," Patty Rovito said.
Smith faces a list of charges including four counts of animal cruelty. All of the animals were taken to a vet and placed in foster care. The pregnant dog Penelope gave birth to seven puppies over the weekend. The incident upsets Smith's neighbors in Mount Carmel.
"I take good care of my dog and I take good care of my children. That's the responsibility I took on as a human being. If you have animals, that's something you need to provide for them," Nicole Pancher said.
"I don't have animals but I don't like cruelty to animals. When the cop came out he was full of fleas and that was disgusting. I can't believe that was going on across the street from me and I didn't even know it," Rovito said.
A representative for Mostly Mutts Animal Shelter says the animals are doing well and were placed in foster homes.
Belinda Smith is in the Northumberland County Prison and is scheduled to appear in court next month.