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Cats Forfeited, 1 Charge Held in Hoarding Case

The Montgomery County SPCA is seeking homes for 35 cats owned by a pair of Hatboro residents who authorities said had the animals living in deplorable conditions.

A Hatboro mother and daughter were forced to and were ordered to pay a combined $340 in fines and court costs stemming from 74 animal cruelty summary offenses.

The pair, Elwine Kimball, 85, and her daughter, Diana, came before Hatboro District Judge Paul Leo Thursday morning. Authorities had told Patch in June that the Kimballs and their 36 cats had been removed from their East Monument Avenue home after urine-soaked floors and overwhelming smells of ammonia had caused the home to be unlivable. 

Each received 36 animal cruelty violations as well as a separate conspiracy charge in the days following the property condemnation, authorities said.

However, on Thursday, prosecutor Abigail Silverman of the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office requested that all but one count of the summary offenses be withdrawn. In addition, Silverman said the SPCA would not seek restitution for the care it has been providing to the felines since June.

The reason, Silverman told Patch afterward, was to allow the animals to be adopted sooner rather than later. Until the matter is settled, the SPCA is required to keep the animals in its custody. If the Kimballs were penalized for all 74 counts – at $25 per offense – and appealed, the SPCA would need to keep the animals in their care until the case was resolved.

Judge Leo accepted those provisions. In all, each of the Kimballs is responsible for a $25 fine and $145 in court costs. While the Kimballs’ attorney approved the decision, Diana Kimball seemed to find fault with everyone from the police to the SPCA to the DA’s office.

“They’re going to euthanize them,” Kimball said. “I guess they get a special delight euthanizing a three-legged animal.”

During court, she said to no one in particular that the stack of citations were filled with half-truths. And when the cost of caring for the animals was referenced, Kimball said of the SPCA, “They took them, it’s their responsibility.”

When her attorney pointed out that the animals were taken because of poor care and that it is the pet owners’ obligation to provide proper care, Kimball referenced Charles Dickens.

“If that be the law, then the law is an ass,” she said.

In response, Judge Leo said, “You’re a real three-ring circus, lady.”

Kristina Machalette, Montgomery County Humane Society police officer, told Patch on Thursday that the animals are “good” for the most part and are now available for adoption at the Conshohocken and Abington facilities. One of the cats died of old age, Machalette said and others underwent treatment for upper respiratory conditions.

“Our plan is never to euthanize,” Machalette said. “We’re always trying to encourage people to come in.”

Rhonda Thomas, Montgomery County SPCA assistant shelter manager said a few of the cats suffer from kidney problems and liver failure and may not be able to be adopted.

The Kimballs are living elsewhere for the time being, but their attorney said the plan is to clean up the house so they can return.

Elwine Kimball, who is wheelchair-bound, is living at Garden Spring Center nursing home in Willow Grove for an undetermined amount of time and her daughter is staying in a motel, he said. 

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