The owner of a Middletown animal rescue has been found guilty of five counts of animal cruelty.
Lesli Martin, owner of Heart’s Rescue Sanctuary, was charged with six counts of the first-degree misdemeanor involving one cat and five kittens. A not guilty decision was decided by the judge on the remaining charge.
Sentencing is set for Sept. 20. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Last week, months after the charges were filed in November by the Butler County Dog Warden’s Office, Martin had a bench trial in Middletown Municipal Court.
Judge Melynda Cook Howard issued her decision Tuesday.
A search warrant was served Nov. 30 at Martin’s rescue, then located at a storefront in Middletown Shopping Center, and 50 cats were found. About 28 cats that were sick and injured were seized from the shelter, according to records.
One cat and five kittens were euthanized because a veterinarian determined they were suffering from multiple medical conditions, including ring worm and flea anemia. Those animals were the basis of the charges against Martin, 51.
In the written decision, Cook Howard said “The testimony presented demonstrates that these five kittens were euthanized by Animal Friends after their removal from the possession of defendant due to their medical conditions. These five kittens were in the possession, care and control of the defendant from their birth until the date of seizure by search warrant.”
But the judge found reasonable doubt in the charge pertaining to the adult cat seized from the rescue because Martin testified it had only been in her care for a couple days.