EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated to reflect the charges that were filed against Susann Cheslick
PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A Luzerne County woman is in custody after 30 cats were found in her residence in deplorable conditions and 28 dead kittens were found in her freezer.
According to a police criminal complaint, on Tuesday, March 15, Wayne Harvey, a Humane Society Police Officer (HSPO) for the SPCA, received a call from Tracey Chopick of the County Animal Response Team (CART).
Chopick says she called Harvey because she and several rescue groups removed over 30 cats from a second-floor apartment in the 200 block of River Street in Plains Township.
The owner of the property, gave Chopick permission to enter the residence to remove the animals because the tenant, 52-year-old, Susann Cheslick, was in the hospital and the animals were living in deplorable conditions, and the smell of urine and feces was permeating throughout the building, the criminal complaint says.
Chopick says that while removing the cats, one, in particular, had a severe open and infected wound on its neck. Also, many of the cats showed signs of upper respiratory disease and some of them were also pregnant.
Court papers state, that on or around Wednesday, April 6, Chopick called the SPCA and said she had found many dead kittens in the freezer at Cheslick’s apartment. The kittens were brought in for analysis by the SPCA Veterinarian, Dr. Sherrie Kinsella.
According to Dr. Kinsella, all 28 of the dead kittens were 1 to 2 days old, some even had umbilical cords attached to them. Their noses and mouths were pink indicating blood flow prior to the kittens being frozen, meaning they were alive before they were placed in the freezer.
On April 20, Dr. Kinsella examined the kittens one more time in more detail and discovered that 27 of the kittens had pink mucus membranes, gums, nose, and asking around the mouth. Dr. Kinsella also said one kitten had been in the freezer so long it succumbed to freezer burn but was the same age as the other kittens.
According to an affidavit, Dr. Kinsella concluded that the kittens were placed in the freezer at different times while still alive, which eventually killed them.
Cheslick was taken into custody on Tuesday and arraigned in front of MDJ Brian James Tupper. She is being charged with 27 counts of aggravated cruelty to animals – causing SBI or Death, 54 counts of cruelty to animals, 2 counts of neglect of animals – vet care, and 31 counts of neglect of animals – shelter/protection.