RUMFORD, Maine — A woman who left cats, dogs and an iguana without food or water in her vacant apartment last week is under investigation for animal cruelty, an official said.
Animal Control Officer Sue Milligan said she began receiving complaints Tuesday that a woman in an apartment at 30 Falmouth St. had left her animals unattended for days.
“I received three complaints that the owner had left Saturday to go to the Fryeburg Fair for the week and had left her animals without water or food,” Milligan said.
At 1 a.m. Tuesday, a Rumford police officer went to investigate and confirmed pets were inside, no one was home and the apartment was in total disarray, she said. A notice was posted on the door for the owner to contact animal control within 24 hours.
On Thursday afternoon, Milligan said she spoke to the woman who insisted she had been home each night to feed her animals.
Milligan and police officers got a search warrant to enter the apartment Thursday night and found five kittens, two cats, two dogs and an iguana with no water or food available for them, and urine and feces throughout the premises.
The animals were dehydrated and at least one of the cats was severely malnourished, she said. The cats and dogs also were infested with fleas.
“A partial bag of cat food was found, but it was in the back of a cupboard,” Milligan said.
The iguana was inside a plastic tote with only a heat rock inside. The reptile had burns on its stomach, which Milligan believed were from the rock.
She said Maine law requires owners of iguanas to have permits.
When police spoke with the woman Thursday night, she admitted she had not been home all week, Capt. Daniel Garbarini said.
The animals were removed and placed in shelters for their protection.
A report is being sent to the district attorney for review, she said.
A conviction for animal cruelty of this sort carries a maximum sentence of 364 days in jail. The pet owner also may be required to pay fines.
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