ALLENTOWN, Pa. – A woman who marketed "gothic kittens" with ear, neck and tail piercings over the Internet has been charged with animal cruelty and conspiracy.
Dog groomer Holly Crawford, 34, was charged Tuesday by humane officers. Her home outside Wilkes-Barre was raided Dec. 17 after the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Luzerne County received a tip from PETA that she was marketing the animals online for hundreds of dollars.
Crawford has said she will plead innocent.
Crawford told The Associated Press on Thursday that she didn't see any difference between piercing a cat and piercing a human. She said she used sterile needles and surgical soap and that she checked the kittens several times a day to make sure they were healing properly.
"When I did it, it wasn't with any cruel intentions," said Crawford, of rural Ross Township. "They were definitely loved, well-fed, no fleas, clipped nails. And they were happy."
Daphna Nachminovitch, a vice president for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, called the piercings "barbaric."
"There's no excuse for inflicting such pain on an animal that's the size of your palm," she said.
SPCA Officer Carol Morrison said the kittens had 14-gauge piercings through their ears and submission rings at the napes of their necks. One kitten's tail was docked.
Crawford, who sports her own body piercings, said she decided on a whim to pierce the ears and neck of a stray kitten she took in last fall and named Snarley Monster. She said she docked the cat's tail because it was badly damaged and that the animal was not intended for sale.
Morrison charged Crawford and William Blansett, 37, of Sweet Valley, each with three misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty, three summary counts of cruelty and three counts of conspiracy.
Crawford said Blansett helped take calls about the kittens but that he had nothing to do with the piercings.
A number for Blansett could not be located.
Crawford said her dog-grooming business, Pawside Parlor, has plummeted since the raid and that she has received dozens of nasty phone calls.
"My name's ruined, my reputation's ruined, my business is ruined," she said.