PINE GROVE, Pa. – A woman stockpiled cat food donated to her purported animal sanctuary and resold some of it, leaving dozens of animals to go hungry, to finance a drug habit, police said.
Virginia Kresge Justiniano, who had run the Cats With No Names sanctuary since 1996, was charged with drug possession after being stopped for a traffic violation Saturday.
Storage sheds on her Pine Grove property were filled with donated cat food that has been sitting unused for months and possibly years, said Mary Ellen Smith of the Ruth Steinart Memorial SPCA's board of directors.
"There's plenty of food here. She had a lot of donors," Smith said.
The fenced-in facility once operated as a shelter for unwanted animals but degenerated when Justiniano and her boyfriend became hooked and began selling large quantities of cat food at auctions to buy heroin and other drugs, Pine Grove police Officer Mark Resue said.
Several dead cats were found on the site and at least 70 more — plus geese, chickens, ferrets and other animals — were living without food, water, heat or medical care, police said.
The couple also rented a storage shed near Lebanon that contained "just more rotten cat food," Resue said.
Justiniano, 50, and her boyfriend, whose name was not immediately released, were being held Tuesday on $25,000 bail. Justiniano did not have an attorney at her arraignment before Frackville District Justice Bernadette Nahas and the judge's office had no indication she has gotten once since.
The cats will remain temporarily at the site as SPCA workers examine and feed them. Though much of the food the animals are eating is past its expiration date, Smith said, "I don't think these cats are going to care."