Florida pet rescuer gets jail for starving cats in apartment


MIAMI (AP) — A self-styled pet rescuer has been sentenced to 364 days in jail for animal cruelty after hoarding cats and leaving them to starve inside a small apartment in South Florida.

Fifty-six-year-old Cheryl Smilen pleaded guilty. She’s also banned from owning or trying to rescue animals once she’s free again. Investigators say Smilen began hoarding street cats inside her small efficiency apartment.

A horrible smell brought police there in 2018. They found some cats emaciated and malnourished. Others were dead for months, and evidence suggested some cats had eaten others to survive.

There was plenty of food, but they hadn’t been fed.

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