AR-News: (MA - US) Woman hoarder pleads not guilty to animal cruelty charges

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Fri Jul 4 22:54:45 EDT 2003


Woman pleads not guilty to animal cruelty chargesBy Nicholas Zamiska, Globe 
Correspondent, 7/3/2003ALTHAM -- Arraigned on 84 counts of animal cruelty 
yesterday, a self-described cat breeder pleaded not guilty, and said outside the 
building that she treated her cats better than the animal welfare groups that 
have them now.   Heidi Erickson, who is living in Watertown, said her cats are 
''not thriving'' under the care of the animal welfare organizations that took 
custody of her pets.

''These people aren't putting them on pillows on windowsills, feeding them 
the high quality food I fed them, patting their bellies,'' Erickson, who was 
visibly distraught, said outside Waltham District Court yesterday morning.
She demanded that the Animal Rescue League of Boston, a nonprofit animal 
welfare group that has custody of some of her cats, return her pets, which she 
said are very valuable.

Ted Clark, spokesman for the Animal Rescue League, declined to comment on 
Erickson's allegations because of the ongoing litigation. He also would not 
comment on the condition of the animals.
Judge Gregory C. Flynn released Erickson, 42, on personal recognizance and 
appointed an attorney to represent her.

City inspectors who raided her Beacon Hill home in April found more than 60 
cat corpses, some of which were frozen, authorities said. In May, at least five 
dead cats and 52 ailing ones were discovered in Erickson's Watertown 
apartment, inspectors said. Yesterday's charges were filed by the Middlesex district 
attorney's office over the animals found in her Watertown apartment.

Included were 26 counts of illegal possession of hypodermic needles, which 
officials said Erickson was using in her basement apartment in what they allege 
was a secret laboratory where she had been trying to develop her own breed of 
Persian cat.
Andrew Karas, a lawyer who represented her in court yesterday, said, ''She 
loves cats. She's very concerned for their welfare.''

Hoarding animals can be a type of psychopathology, according to Carter Luke, 
vice president of animal protection at the Massachusetts Society for the 
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Luke is a member of a research group studying 
animal hoarding, which he said is currently not recognized by the medical 
establishment as a psychological disorder. He said there are five to 10 cases per 
year in Massachusetts alone, adding that 75-80 percent of those cases involve 
cats.
''Erickson's situation is typical of animal hoarders,'' Luke said. ''But it's 
also one of the most extreme cases we've ever seen.''
This story ran on page B3 of the Boston Globe on 7/3/2003.
© <A HREF="http://www.boston.com/globe/search/copyright.html">Copyright</A> 2003 Globe Newspaper Company. 
    

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