A representative of the Humane Society Waterville Area bathes one of seven cats who survived after being abandoned in a locked storage container for 17 days in this Nov. 16, 2018, file photo. Credit: Lauren Kennedy | HSWA

The woman who allegedly locked a dozen cats inside a storage unit without food or water for 17 days last fall in Unity was indicted last week by the Waldo County Grand Jury.

Anna C. Elander, 66, of Unity, has been charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, a Class C crime, and criminal cruelty to animals, a Class D crime.

According to a report published last November by News Center Maine, the cats were discovered after another customer at the self-storage facility heard the cats on Oct. 5 and notified the property owner.

Upon investigation, officials found that the cats had been stuffed into three plastic dog crates inside the storage unit and left there. Three were already dead when they were discovered, one died shortly after arriving at the Humane Society Waterville Area and one was euthanized a couple of days later for medical reasons.

“The crates were filthy and matted with fur. The urine smell was so powerfully terrible we could almost taste it,” an official from the Humane Society Waterville Area said in a video posted on the group’s Facebook page Nov. 16. “They were all emaciated, hungry, exhausted, filthy with feces and urine — and silent.”

Shelter staff and officials dubbed the surviving cats the “Miracle Cats” and worked to rehabilitate them over the next few weeks. They were determined to be ready for adoption in November, but shelter staff said they would only allow the cats to be adopted under special guidelines so they would be sure to continue to get good care and attention.

If Elander is found to be guilty of aggravated cruelty to animals, her most serious charge, she could face a penalty of up to five years imprisonment and a fine of as much as $5,000.