Who, age What Where When Last Known Address
Victoria Abolins, 79

Neglect & hoarding 243 dead & dying cats & a dog

Park Allen, Edmonton Alberta, Canada

June 5, 1999

 
Lucy Abolins, 55

Neglect & hoarding 243 dead & dying cats & a dog

Park Allen, Edmonton Alberta, Canada

June 5, 1999

 
Anne Abolins, 49

Neglect & hoarding 243 dead & dying cats & a dog

Park Allen, Edmonton Alberta, Canada

June 5, 1999

 
Type of Crime Other Crimes #/Type of animal(s) involved Case Status Next Court Date /Courthouse
     cats & dogs Convicted  

Victoria Abolins, 79, and her daughters Lucy, 55, and Anne, 49, were evicted from 2 rented residences for hoarding cats. 126 emaciated cats, 117 decaying cat corpses and the body of an outnumbered dog were found.  After they were evicted their rented home was torn down on July 27th.  The entire residence was a swamp of fecal matter, rotting clothes and maggots.  Feces was even leaking out of the foundation of the house.

The surviving 83 animals were emaciated, unfed and in distress.  Many suffered from leukemia and FIP, a fatal blood disease.  The animals had to be euthanized.  None of the cats appeared to be older than 6 months indicated they had been eating their young to survive.

Lucy and Ann were each charged under the Animal Protection Act for causing and permitting distress to cats/animal cruelty.  They will appear in court on September 9th.  The maximum find is $20,000.

The SPCA wants to be sure they will never again own another animal.  “It's up to the Crown to decide whether to proceed with the charge,” SPCA special constable Garnet Melnyk told a news conference.  Society constables went to the motel where the Abolins are staying and read them their rights. Although Anne refused to speak, Melnyk said 1 of the other women gave a statement. "We still need to gather statements from a few key witnesses," says Melnyk. Other evidence will come from necropsy reports on the dead cats.

In the next few weeks, a veterinarian specializing in pathology will do an autopsy of the 83 cats that were destroyed. For now, the bodies are being stored in a secured, walk-in cooler. The other 108 animals found dead and in various states of decomposition in the garage have been sealed in a dangerous goods container and will be burned, said SPCA veterinarian Craig Wilkinson. He has concluded they probably died of disease. Feline Infectious Peritonitis, which has a mortality rate near 100 per cent, was rampant in the population. "There were no broken bones or signs of trauma that would indicate physical abuse of the cats," Wilkinson says.

Lucy Abolin appeared in Provincial Court on July 26th facing charges of fraud after she moved from a Belgravia rental house, leaving behind a rental check that bounced and $20,000 in damage.  In October 1994, her landlord discovered torn carpet, damaged floorboards, piles of garbage and an odor so strong that cleaning companies refused to enter.  She was found not guilty because it could not be proven she intentionally wrote a bad check.

Abolins said that following the SPCA raid, the family suffered trauma. First, media hounded the family as they were kicked out of a 2nd home near Saskatchewan Drive. They were then sent to the inner city Women’s Emergency Accommodation Centre.  The 3 asked to be moved and were checked into the Lodge Motor Inn, "but 30 minutes later they were asked to leave and sent back to WEAC."

A copy of a letter Abolins wrote to Mayor Bill Smith complains about conditions the3 endured at the inner-city shelter.  "Abuse of others occurs like a prison environment," the Abolins wrote to the mayor. She also complained that the shelter seemed to be a legalized brothel with residents coming and going at their will to ply their trade as prostitutes. A spokesperson from Mayor Smith’s office says there is no record of the letter being received.  WEAC manager Jeannie Bodnaruk says the Abolins were treated well.

Anne and Lucy Abolins filed a $4 million lawsuit in May 2000 against the owner of the house they had rented in Edmonton, claiming the notoriety and the health inspectors made it impossible for them to find new living quarters.

In August 2000, a judged fined the Abolins $3,400 for housing code violations.  Lucy Abolins called the SPCA “the Antichrist” for taking her cats away.

Lynn Erbe owned the home that had to be torn down.  His insurance company has refused a claim to cover the expense.

References:

Western Report Edmonton Journal
The Calgary Herald See Magazine
Uexpress Tufts University