BRISTOL -- The stateâ€™s Department of Agriculture has accused a Bristol woman of selling an underage kitten and operating a pet shop without a license.
Abigale Jones, 30, of 489 Wolcott St., faces two counts of animal cruelty and one count each of practicing veterinary care without a license, operating a pet shop without a license and sale of an underage kitten.
According to the warrant for her arrest, a State Animal Control Officer with the Department of Agriculture Animal Control unit received a request in October to investigate Jones and Tenderheart Rescue, which she founded and owns, based on allegations that she was selling underage kittens that were sick and dying.
A state and local Animal Control Officer visited Jonesâ€™ home several days later and were allowed in under the condition that they give her time to put her dog away and not look in the bathroom, the warrant said. It took her 10 to 15 minutes before allowing the officers in, during which time, one officer wrote in the warrant, he believes she had hid some animals. The officers found 10 cages despite Jones saying she only had three cats in the home. The officers said they found four cats and believe there were more.
Jones, the warrant said, told officers she rescues cats and kittens and finds them new homes and that she uses multiple veterinarians. She denied having any sick cats, but added that she recently had a kitten die of feline distemper -- which is also known as panleukopenia, a highly contagious virus that causes gastrointestinal, immune system and nervous system disease.
She also said she administers medications and fluids to her animals, and that itâ€™s not always under a veterinarianâ€™s direction, according to the warrant.
A state ACO also found a Facebook post from an account with the name Abigale Jones that included a post from September in which the user wrote: â€śIâ€™m so proud of myself learning how to give fluids properly!â€ť A picture on the post, which showed someone holding an intravenous bag, was shared from the Tenderheart Rescue page and included the caption: â€śI was about to go to bed. However a very sick kitten is coming in Fluids Ready!!â€ť
The investigating ACO also spoke to someone who said she purchased two kittens from Jones. One of them died shortly thereafter and the other, which the woman said Jones told her was 8 weeks old, was examined by a vet and found to be just over 6 weeks old, the warrant said. The animal that was examined had a fever and tested positive for an intestinal tract infection, according to the warrant.
Investigators also contacted someone from the Wolcott Veterinary Clinic, who said the clinic had seen two kittens from Tenderheart and knew of a few kittens that had died while in their care, the warrant stated.
Additionally, a report from the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory indicated that Tenderheart Rescue had three kittens from two different litters die suddenly in the same week, according to the warrant. The report also said a kitten from Tenderheart tested positive for distemper, the document continued.
Jones was arrested earlier this month and released on a promise to appear. Police reports indicate she was originally scheduled to be arraigned in New Britain Superior Court on Friday. Judicial records on Friday said she is slated to appear before a judge on Feb. 17.
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or firstname.lastname@example.org.