ANCHORAGE - An animal rights group is recommending that an Anchorage woman accused of neglecting more than 100 cats in her home get psychiatric help if convicted of animal cruelty.
"She appears to have a history of amassing large numbers of animals," Daniel Paden, a cruelty case worker with Norfolk, Va.-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said Monday. "These hoarders by definition are in denial and oblivious to the suffering before them."
PETA sent a letter Monday to city prosecutor Nick Spiropoulos setting out what it thinks should happen in the case of Krystal Allen, a 52-year-old woman charged with two counts of animal cruelty for allegedly keeping animals in an inhumane manner by failing to provide adequate food, water, housing and care. A third count of animal cruelty stems from an incident where Allen allegedly hit a cat so hard it hit a wall.
Allen also faces one count of tampering with evidence for allegedly stashing some kittens and cats at another person's house after being told to comply with city laws. Allen does not have a special permit license to have four or more cats.
The charges are misdemeanors. Each charge is punishable by a maximum one year in jail and a $10,000 fine.
Paden said collecting more animals is nearly guaranteed without proper intervention from the court system and mental health experts.
"These cases are misunderstood and mishandled unfortunately," he said. "Giving a hoarder even one animal and saying stop there is kind of like saying give an alcoholic a beer and have one drink."
In a letter to city prosecutor Nick Spiropoulos, PETA warns that if Allen is convicted and does not receive psychological help, the problem likely will recur.
"We respectfully ask that, if convicted, Krystal Allen be required to undergo a psychological evaluation followed by mandatory counseling at her own expense - her welfare, and that of the community and its animals, may depend on it," the letter says.
PETA also wants Allen to be barred from owning or harboring animals in the future.
Spiropoulos said PETA sent him the letter Monday.
"We don't usually get letters from PETA but we don't usually have cases like this," he said. "It is an unusual case."
Spiropoulos said the letter raises a possibility - moving the case to mental health court where psychiatric treatment is a component. However, Allen would have to agree to the move, he said.
Michael Logue, Allen's attorney, did not immediately return calls for comment.
Police visited Allen's South Anchorage home on Oct. 6 after neighbors complained of a stench wafting through the neighborhood. Officials said the home, which was deemed unfit for habitation, smelled of feces and urine. Allen also had three dogs and numerous exotic birds. Some of the animals had obvious health problems.
Allen told police that she took in strays and people gave her animals and it got out of control. She voluntarily surrendered most of the animals.
Paden said the case isn't all that unusual. His office gets five to 10 cases a week of animal hoarding from across the country.
"Many people will call for incarceration. That does not address what could be the root of this behavior," he said. "This can't be solved with a fine and a mere slap on the wrist."