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For Immediate Release: July 2, 2010
Contact: Kristin DeJournett 757-622-7382
Wheatfield, N.Y. -- Today, PETA sent an urgent plea to Niagara County District Attorney Michael J. Violante calling on his office to appropriately prosecute Joelle Kott, owner of Pitstop Puppy's Rescue in Wheatfield. Kott faces charges stemming from authorities' January discovery and seizure of more than 60 dogs who were reportedly confined at the facility without access to food or water. News sources stated that the kennel was unheated, animals and food bowls were covered in feces, and a strong odor of feces and urine permeated the premises. According to one rescue volunteer, "You could see their ribs. Some had sores. Their tails were broken open. It was just really bad." One dog was reportedly found dead. Kott is scheduled to face charges in court on Tuesday, July 6.
Because Kott may be an "animal hoarder"--someone who obsessively accumulates and neglects animals--PETA is requesting that, if convicted, she be prohibited from owning or harboring animals and be required to undergo a thorough psychological evaluation followed by counseling.
"Facilities that purport to be sanctuaries but cause more suffering than they prevent are all too common," says PETA Director Martin Mersereau. "If Kott's property proves to be one of those, it is imperative that she be duly sentenced."
PETA also sent its report on animal hoarding to Violante. For more information, please visit PETA.org.
PETA' letter to Niagara County District Attorney Michael J. Violante follows.
July 2, 2010
The Honorable Michael J. ViolanteNiagara County District Attorney's Office
Dear Mr. Violante:
PETA is the world's largest animal rights organization, with more than 2 million members and supporters dedicated to animal protection. This letter concerns a case of cruelty to animals that your office is handling. The case involves Joelle Kott of Pitstop Puppy's Rescue. According to news sources, authorities seized more than 60 dogs from Kott's care after the animals were discovered confined without access to food or water. One dog was reportedly found dead. We understand that Kott is scheduled to appear in court on these charges on July 6.
We believe the accused may be an animal hoarder. Hoarders create massive suffering while professing to care for their animals. A psychological addiction to warehousing animals supersedes any real concern for animal welfare. Hoarders' resources are usually constrained, which makes things worse. The "hoarder syndrome" is not rare; it's pathological, and rates of recidivism approach 100 percent. Only the filing of charges and a vigorous prosecution, with specific sentencing recommendations (or conditions of a plea agreement) should conviction be secured, will prevent repeat offenses.
On behalf of our thousands of members and supporters in New York, we ask that, if convicted, Kott be ordered to undergo psychological evaluation (in addition to serving a period of incarceration) followed by mandatory counseling at her own expense--the safety of New York's residents may depend on it. Because repeat crimes are the rule rather than the exception among animal abusers--particularly among hoarders--we also ask that your office ensure that Kott, if convicted, be barred from possessing animals for as long as possible and that all animals who may be in her charge be immediately seized.
Thank you for your diligence in this matter and for your time and consideration.
Kristin DeJournettSenior Cruelty CaseworkerCruelty Investigations Department
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