A 45-year-old woman who kept dozens of cats in inhumane conditions at her Moreno Valley home was sentenced Wednesday to three years felony probation.
Kristen Gotangco pleaded guilty in March to 17 counts of felony animal cruelty for mistreating the felines under her care, and Riverside County Superior Court Judge Bambi Moyer imposed the stipulated sentence.
In addition to probation, Gotangco received a one-year jail term, but without objection from the prosecution, Moyer supplanted the jail time with an assignment to a sheriff’s work release program, during which the defendant will have to remain employed, enrolled in school or be involved in other approved activities.
According to sheriff’s officials and Moreno Valley Animal Control, nearly 100 adult felines and kittens were discovered on July 1, 2019, in the defendant’s home in the 22000 block of La Jolla Circle, near TownGate Memorial Park.
Deputies were called to the location after a neighbor complained of an extremely foul odor that raised public health concerns. They found cats caged in filthy conditions, with some suffering from life-threatening health complications as a result, investigators said.
Moreno Valley Animal Shelter Director Steve Fries told City News Service at the time that about 20 felines were either dead or in such dire shape that they had to be humanely euthanized. Other cats were too feral to be placed at the shelter and were instead diverted to a specialized animal care facility.
Two dogs were also seized from Gotangco’s property and sheltered.
Ultimately 16 cats and kittens were rehabilitated and put up for adoption at the end of July 2019.
There was no word on why the defendant was hoarding the animals. She had no documented prior felony or misdemeanor convictions in Riverside County.
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