(HOARDING/CATS) FLORIDA — Our love for animals can go a long way, but in the extreme case of Penny and Steve Lefkowitz, that love has crossed over into mental illness and has resulted in over 100 cat deaths. Almost 700 cats were seized from the Lefkowitz’s animal shelter, or lack there of, making their hoarding case one of the most severe the Humane Society has ever seen. The two are facing 47 counts of animal cruelty and though their intentions were good, the end result was not. State Attorney General Bill Cervone believes that if Penny and Steve can address their hoarding issue, then a solution can be reached. Read further for more on how humane activists and animal lovers are reacting. — Global Animal
Cheryl Hanna, Examiner.com
Alachua County, Florida – Penny and Steve Lefkowitz, owners of Haven Acres Cat Sanctuary have the dubious distinction of being one of the top three cases of cat hoarding according to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Arrested on Monday night, the couple have been charged with 47 counts of animal cruelty stemming from the June 7 seizure of 697 cats.
Initially the couple were charged with 35 counts of the 3rd degree felonies; now the counts have increased to include 46 cats and one rooster.
According to the HSUS, nearly 100 cats had to be euthanized because of severe health complications. The other cats are now at a converted Gainesville warehouse where 25 University of Florida veterinary students are assisting in the spaying and neutering of the cats.
State Attorney General Bill Cervone believes the couple had good intentions, but became overwhelmed. Residents of the area were dropping off their “unwanted” cats believing the animals would be living in a “country-club environment.” Cervone hopes the couple will be able to address their hoarding issues and is hopeful a positive solution can be reached.
Humane activists have differing opinions as how they would like the case to be resolved. Some advocates are in favor of the couple having mandatory mental health evaluations and therapy while other animal lovers want the couple to spend jail time for the suffering of so many animals.
When interviewed shortly after the original seizure, Penny Lefkowitz, 59 denied being an animal hoarder. She stated she only wanted to help cats, but did admit she went “overboard.” Penny and her husband Steve, 65 spent more than $33,000 on their cat rescue last year, and said they were so sad over all of the cats euthanized at various animal shelters, and wanted to make a difference.
An adopt-a-thon for the cats is scheduled for August 26 to August 28. Adoption fees have not been set. Please click here for more details.