Caledonia County woman in court for 42 animal cruelty charges
Cynthia Erlandsson appears in Caledonia County court.
A room inside Erlandsson's South Ryegate house filled with cat feces.
Rescuers bring cats out of Erlandsson's house in November 2010.
South Ryegate, Vermont - April 25, 2011
A large animal cruelty case in Caledonia County took center stage in court Monday.
Cynthia Erlandsson came to the Caledonia County Courthouse Monday facing 42 separate counts of animal cruelty.
"The state's evidence, we believe, is great, your honor," said Caledonia County prosecutor Lisa Warren.
Warren says in November of 2010, the 58-year-old traveling nurse took off for a new job in Wyoming, but she left 42 cats behind in her South Ryegate home and animal advocates say the cats had to fend for themselves in horrific conditions.
"I would say this is one of the worst I've ever seen," said Sue Skaskiw who was part of a team from Vermont Volunteer Services for Animals who went into Erlandsson's home and removed the cats. She says 20 had to be put down. The rest went to shelters and others still need homes.
"Every room had urine and feces in it," she said. "It was surreal. In one room especially, there was at least a foot of feces."
The yard of the home still hasn't been cleaned since authorities entered nearly six months ago. In court Monday Erlandsson denied all 42 counts of animal cruelty and was released on $1,500 bail. However, the judge imposed conditions barring Erlandsson from obtaining more animals.
Prosecutors say they fear Erlandsson's treatment of animals hasn't changed.
"When the defendant left, it was the state's understanding that she took some animals with her," Warren said.
Erlandsson told Channel 3 she took nine cats with her to Wyoming. Skaskiw says the court didn't go far enough to protect those animals.
"We wish that they had included that she had to spay and neuter the animals that are in her possession right now because right now, in the springtime, they're all reproducing," Skaskiw said.
Erlandsson spoke to Channel 3 off camera and says that this is all just a setup, but she would not elaborate on how. She says she left 20 cats outside her home when she left for Wyoming, but that she was planning to return for them on Christmas. She did not say how the cats were going to be fed for over a month.
If convicted, Erlandsson faces one year in prison and a $1,000 fine for each count of animal cruelty.