Woman convicted of animal cruelty gets jail time

Posted at 4:09 PM, Oct 08, 2009
and last updated 2012-04-11 16:09:08-04

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WTVR) – A Chesterfield woman accused of keeping 56 cats and 4 dogs in her home has been sentenced to a year in jail.

Patti Wheeler was convicted on several charges including: 4 counts of animal cruelty, 3 counts of failure to dispose of dead companion animals, failure to obtain a kennel license and destruction of property.

Veterinarians testified in court that many of the animals were sick, severely underweight and suffered from serious health problems. Of the 60 animals, more than half had to be euthanized.

The judge called the situation a “holocaust for cats” and a “torture chamber”. But her attorney, John Rockecharlie, painted a different picture.

“In a very short span of time the cats started to control the house instead of her controlling the house. And eventually the cats in essence kind of pushed her right out to where she was sleeping in her car,” Rockecharlie said.

After the sentence, Rockecharlie told CBS 6 he doesn’t think his client should go to jail. “I think I put it as best I could that it was her compassion and her desire to help that just turned around on her and snowballed out of control to a situation where she had way too many cats that she could take care of.”

A sheriff’s deputy was serving an eviction notice when the animals were discovered back in May.

Wheeler’s attorney has already filed an appeal.//