Animal Advocates Concerned Over Sentence in Taylor Cat Case

TAYLOR, Pa. -- A woman from Lackawanna County who was charged with animal cruelty for poisoning feral cats in her neighborhood could have her criminal record cleared.

Animal rights advocates say her sentence highlights holes in the state's cruelty law.

Jennifer Oustrich of Taylor was charged back in August with felony animal cruelty charges. She was one of the first people in Lackawanna County to be charged under Libre's Law.

Oustrich was sentenced last week to community service and probation.

Neighbors on West Taylor Street in Taylor agree on one thing: their neighborhood has a problem with feral cats, but they are at odds over how a landlord chose to deal with it.

Back in August, that landlord, Jennifer Oustrich, was charged with felony animal cruelty. She was accused of poisoning the feral cats around her rental property.

An investigation found that two cats died.

This month, Oustrich was given a rehabilitative sentence in Lackawanna County Court. After 50 hours of community service and a year of supervision, she could have all the charges, including the felony, cleared from her record.

"For the amount of proof they have, I guess it's reasonable. It could have been a lot worse," said Taylor resident Brittny Hufford. "I have a cat myself, and if my cat would have gotten out and gone down, I'm pretty sure I would have wanted more sentencing to do with it."

Oustrich's defense attorney says the state's animal cruelty law known as Libre's Law doesn't designate between pets, feral animals, or even rodents. He thinks the felony charge may not have held up at trial.

"It's going to create a precedent. They've created a monster here, is what they've done," said Denise Kumor.

Kumor runs Tracey's Hope, an animal rescue which protested outside Oustrich's court appearance last year. Kumor hoped that Oustrich's case would set an example that animal cruelty is a serious offense.

"It makes me very angry because I think there's going to be a lot of work in the future for me because there's going to be an awful lot of people just thinking it's OK. They'll get a slap on the wrist. They'll get ARD, and everything will be fine," Kumor said.

The state attorney general's office prosecuted Jennifer Oustrich's case. We reached out to prosecutors for comment, but we have not heard back.

3 comments

  • savescrantonhistory

    They SHOULD be annoyed that this lady got off easy. What’s the point of having animal cruelty laws if you let people off with a slap on the wrist?

    I mean at the same time the initial cat owners who either dumped off their cats, let them mate like crazy by not spaying or neutering them or let them run free without worrying about them should really be the ones going to court. THEY are the reason there are ‘feral’ cats in the first place.

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