Landlord Accused of Poisoning Cats

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TAYLOR, Pa. -- Neighbors in Taylor called police when they noticed several stray cats had died. Officers confirmed suspicions that those cats were being poisoned.

Now, one neighbor is facing felony charges.

It was a year ago last week that lawmakers in Harrisburg passed what's known as Libre's Law which stiffened penalties for animal abuse.

It's that law that allowed Taylor police to file felony charges against a property owner on West Taylor Street.

Cats ordinarily hang out on porches and in bushes along West Taylor Street in Taylor. Neighbors called police last month when they noticed something out of the ordinary.

The cats were dying -- at least five in the span of just a few weeks.

After an investigation, police filed felony animal abuse charges against Jennifer Oustrich who rents out an apartment building on the street. She's accused of poisoning the cats.

"What was it? A couple weeks ago, she said, 'I will poison them.' People can talk and not mean exactly, but she was serious because you found the evidence," neighbor Justin Berkosky said.

Police found rat poison mixed with dog food along the fence line of Oustrich's rental property. Autopsies on the cats could only prove that two of them actually ate the poison but at least five died.

"I just thought it was nuts because we live right down from the school, yeah, there was a little bit of a problem for a while. But, there's other ways to take care of it than poisoning things. I mean, that runs through the grass when it rains, there's kids out here, this whole street's full of dogs and cats," said neighbor Brittny Hufford.

The arrest brings to light a divisive issue on this block of West Taylor Street: some neighbors say there is a serious feral cat problem.

"Something has got to be done in this neighborhood with the amount of cats," Ada Lynch said.

Ada Lynch's daughter rents from Oustrich and says the cat infestation has gotten so bad that her grandkids can't even go out in the yard.

"Either they need to be told to stop feeding them, animal control maybe needs to come out and catch them and trap them and put them up for adoption. But, something definitely needs to be done," Lynch said.

Neighbors agree that Oustrich's alleged method was uncalled for.

"There's too many in the neighborhood, there's a lot of stray cats in the neighborhood. So, like I said, there's probably other ways to go about it. I don't know if she tried to take that route or what happened with that. But, I don't agree with what she did," Jennifer Harding said.

Oustrich faces additional charges because the poison could have been consumed by several pets on the street. She's out on bail and due back in court next week.


  • Anna Mae

    TNR is what is needed for community cats!!!! It has nothing to do with feeding the cats. Sterlizingthe cats is the only way to stop the number of cats from growing. This disgusting landlord better get stiff punishment for her felony!!!!! Poor cats – what a horrible way to die.

    • straubdavid9

      Poor indigenous animals, what a way to go …. death by invasive feral cats. So, I guess your feral vermin trump our native animals.

  • jimbrony

    You know your country’s moral compass is broken when it’s a felony charge for killing feral cats that trash a neighborhood, but your tax dollars pay for a teenager to have an abortion without her parents knowing about it.

  • Debbie Zegalia

    I just heard about this story….if it is her property…she has a right to put out poison. But she should not be mixing it with food. That is where she went wrong.

  • Linda Weiland

    If people would spay and neuter their pets this wouldn’t be a problem. People move away and leave cats behind to fend for themselves, it’s disgusting. TNR (trap/neuter/return) works, it’s a great success in Scranton. Don’t blame the cats, blame the humans.

    • straubdavid9

      I am blaming the humans ….. but now we have an animal that has reached vermin status ….. what is going to be done about them, and not just here, but across the state and indeed this country as well as others …. some that are having their small animals and birds decimated by feral cats? I’m talking about millions of feral cats that need to be removed right now from the planet wide environment.

  • Jack Irvin

    Then the powers that be need to control the feral cats, they are disgusting killers of wildlife, scumbags let their cats run free then freak out when someone else has to deal with them

    • straubdavid9

      Cats are “sacred cows” that will never be addressed, because those that are responsible will never be taken to task.

  • straubdavid9

    I so sick and tired of my comments being put in limbo under “awaiting moderation” bull! I’ve yet to ever have one of them moderated. My comments are unbelievably tame compared to a lot of the comments on these sites …. what the heck is going on here???

  • Denise NonyaBizness

    Trap Neuter Return.
    “”Either they need to be told to stop feeding them, animal control maybe needs to come out and catch them and trap them and put them up for adoption. But, something definitely needs to be done,” Lynch said.”

    Except feral cats aren’t adoptable. TNR is the only way to go, proven time and time again to have the most impact, not to mention the most humane. To Ozzycoop, they are not a menace because of people feeding them. The true menace is people who dump intact cats outside. These people have created an ENORMOUS problem across the country, and it is the innocent cats who are suffering the consequences.

    • straubdavid9

      TAE (trap and euthanize) …… why should these vermin be released to wreak havoc on the indigenous wildlife. Aren’t our songbirds the real innocent in this situation? Feral cat problems will never be addressed unless we get serious about this situation. Cats need to be licensed, and vaccinated just like dogs. How many dogs do you see running at large …. now, how many pet cats are left to roam at will every day? Why is the bulk of all these problem cats put on the backs of dog owners? Cat owners aren’t even trying to curb their involvement and behavior ….. why should they ….. they have zero legal responsibility, but a sh-tload of moral responsibility that they have never owned up to …… that needs to change!

      • jimbrony

        Yep. Let some of these cat crazies watch a video when cat kills (for sport) a rabbit, or just listen to a baby rabbit squeal as it’s being killed (for sport) by a cat. You nailed it – vermin. I have to license my dog, but cats get a pass? Why?

    • Denise NonyaBizness

      Why, because trap and kill has been going on for DECADES and the problem continues. TNR is just ramping up and is having a huge impact wherever it is done. You might hate cats and think they’re vermin, but most people do not feel the same, which is why they’re legally protected from abuse whether they’re inside or out. I just moved from a town that required cat licensing. Let me tell you…you think the problem is bad here? *snort* it was RIDICULOUS there. I TNR’d about 120 cats in a 3 mile radius, at least 40 of them kittens that I got off the streets and found homes. Now feeders watch for new cats to show up, because they’re more than likely friendly. They call for help and we get those friendlies out of there before the breeding starts again (because oftentimes it is a pregnant female that’s been dumped). Feeders can be a GREAT asset in this battle, if you only truly understood what it will take to stop this problem. Again, trap and kill does not work. Licensing does not work. People giving away free kittens that are intact is a massive problem…probably the biggest problem out there.

      • ajsmithers22

        I don’t believe the average person who doesn’t even own a pet would care to blow $5,000 on spay/neuter bills.. you’ve claimed to have done 120 cats.. 5,000 would be on the low end.. I wouldn’t be surprised if you have way more money than that wrapped up in your tnr project.. there’s an obvious problem and solution.. I guess it just varies from person to person on how much they’re willing to pay for the same results. You’re priorities frighten people like me tho. Hopefully you were spayed or neutered as well 🙂

      • jimbrony

        I disagree Denise, trap and kill does work. I can guarantee you that every cat that is euthanized will never breed again. And all it costs is a .22 shell or .177 caliber pellet.

  • ozzycoop

    Who can blame her. I don’t condone killing animals like this but I have neighbors who feed the strays because they feel bad for them. There are about 2 dozen that roam my block. They are a menace because of cat people.

    • donamick

      first of all I think you’re a goofy creep and I don’t even know who you are secondly I am not a cat person such as you described but I’d like to know what these cats Menace in your neighborhood do they destroy your property no do they eat the plants in your garden no do they dig holes into your home no I’m going to venture a guess that you are more of a menace than any cat could ever be just by the way you think

      • lickerblisters

        Holy cow Domanick, I hate to go all grammar cop on you but please use some punctuation. By the time I got done reading your post, I was sweating like a priest trying to avoid the front door of a daycare center!

      • Lux Aeterna

        Donamick …male cats spray around and it stinks and all cats have to poop somewhere and sometimes it ends up being someone’s garden and they also kill birds and rabbits just for fun so you find dead birds and rabbits laying around your property. I am just pointing out to you that cats can be a nuisance and they can “damage” property , in that sense.

    • t lo

      No slander, just asked a question if it was her. Someone said it now is her. Channel 16 has a habit of not telling you that kiddie porn, drug dealers, embezzlers worked at Tobyhanna army depot. List is growing. Be arrested for kiddie porn and still get to collect your federal pension? How is that for a job perk? Maybe Bohman can get some right to know info and do a actual story.

      • straubdavid9

        “just asked a question if it was her.”
        No you did not …. you made a whole litany of accusations towards a person you had no real knowledge as to their identity. You are backpeddling because you got lucky (if that other person is even correct).

  • straubdavid9

    Title may as well read “Landlord Accused of Poisoning Rats” because they are both vermin and invasive if not kept under control. Cat lovers created this mess, but won’t do anything to actually fix it, except prevent everyone who are tired of dealing with them, from getting rid of the problem by any means necessary. What about the native species these vermin kill everyday ….. all day?? Let’s see some action on control, before you attack those at the end of their rope with this BS.

  • peatermoss

    Part of the blame on feral cats is that cat owners that don’t spay or neuter and let them run free, and this leads to unwanted cats that become feral.
    They need to be licensed like dogs so that they can be traced back to the owners.
    The SPCA Is loaded with cats.

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