Judge: Cruelty case involving 99 animals from family’s Fairfield Twp. property to head to trial
Hundreds of animal cruelty charges against a Fairfield woman and her parents will go to trial after a Westmoreland County judge on Monday refused to dismiss the cases.
“It’s clear to me there is enough evidence to make a … case,” said Common Pleas Court Judge Christopher Feliciani after hearing testimony from two humane officers who raided a home last March in which officials found 67 cats, 30 dogs, one deer and a turtle living in what officials called deplorable conditions.
Alexsandria Klochak, 54, and her parents were each charged with 236 counts of animal cruelty and related offenses, including 14 felonies. Richard Klochak, 75, and his wife, Yvonne, 72, now live in New Jersey and did not appear in court on Monday due to health issues, according to their defense lawyer Michael Garofalo.
Garofalo and attorney Michael Auberle, who represented Alexsandria Klochak, contended many of the animals were elderly and properly cared for while others had previously been diagnosed with fatal illnesses.
Andrea Palmer and Cassie Wilson, volunteer humane officers with All But Furgotten, a North Huntingdon-based animal shelter, said they found the dogs locked up in crates with empty food and water bowls. They testified the flea-infested animals were caked in urine and feces, which also covered the floors of the home.
Dr. Craig Hill, a veterinarian who treated the dogs and some of the cats, said many of the animals were malnourished and appeared to have had little care.
“I have never seen anything as disgusting as I saw that night,” Hill testified.
He said at least two of the dogs had to be euthanized while others were in need of substantial medical treatment.
Dr. Becky Morrow said about half of the 56 cats she treated from the Klochak home were in poor condition, including several that were diagnosed with a fatal illness.
Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Calisti argued that Klochak and her parents were equally responsible for the animal’s conditions because all three lived together in the home.
The judge did not rule on a request from Garofalo, who asked that the animals owned by Richard and Yvonne Klochak be returned to their care.
A trial is scheduled to begin in April.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293 or [email protected]