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Not Guilty Pleas in Claremont Animal Abuse Case; 12 Cats Recovering

  • One of the 12 recovering cats in Claremont, N.H. (Photo courtesy – Sullivan County Humane Society)

  • (Photograph courtesy Sherry Bell) Jaznele LaRoche, 18, plays with the cats she and her mother, Sherry Bell, are fostering at their home. LaRoche and Bell are fostering 10 of the 12 surviving cats that were found neglected in a pet carrier in Claremont. Two of the cats died shortly after being rescued.



Valley News Correspondent
Monday, January 08, 2018

Claremont — Twelve of the 14 cats that were found stuffed inside a crate and suffering from neglect in November are on the mend and improving each day, Sullivan County Humane Society Director Cheryl Bromley said.

“They are doing really well,” Bromley said last week. “They have all gained weight and their hair is growing back.”

Police charged Crystal Lamonda, 42, and Dwaine Lord, 64, each with 14 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty. They were arraigned in Claremont District Court on Monday morning and not guilty pleas were entered on their behalf by Judge Jack Yazinski. They are free on $1,000 personal recognizance and were ordered not to have any pets in their care. Neither addressed the court, other than to say they do not own animals.

Their next court date is March 12. A court-appointed attorney and a public defender will represent Lamonda and Lord.

The cats, who are still in a foster home, were discovered on Nov. 12 outside a home on Tremont Street. They were covered in blood, urine and feces. Bromley told the Valley News in November it was one of the worst cases of neglect she had seen. One of the cats was found dead in the crate and another died later. The crate was big enough to hold just two adult cats.

In court on Monday, Yazinski read off each charge individually with the name of the cat, followed by “failing to provide appropriate care.” The charges were all similar and each one carries a penalty of up to a year in jail.

According to state statute, cruelty can be defined as acts or omissions that are injurious to the health, safety or welfare of an animal. These can include abandonment without proper care, sustenance or shelter. A second offense can result in a class B felony charge.

The cats range in age from 2 to 4 years old, and it is believed they had been left outside for at least 24 hours. Police were called in the early evening hours on Nov. 12. They transported the cats to the humane society, where the cats immediately began receiving treatment for a variety of problems including respiratory infections and dental work.

Each cat will be spayed or neutered, Bromley said.

This is the first time her organization has been involved in an animal cruelty case that resulted in criminal charges, but Bromley said she was told by the New Hampshire representative of the U.S. Humane Society that there are a lot more cases now being tried in the state.

“There may not be more cases (of neglect), but I think they are prosecuting more cases because people are more aware,” Bromley said.

She also said the recent cold weather has led to more calls about feral cats being found outdoors. A stray brought to the humane society could barely walk and had frostbite on its ears, Bromley said.

She strongly urged residents to remember to bring their pets in at night.

“People think cats can fend for themselves, but not in this cold,” Bromley said of last week’s weather, which saw nighttime temperatures well below zero.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.