PLAINVILLE - Meda Talley, owner of the former Almost Home animal shelter, has been granted a program that will allow her to avoid prosecution.
Talley, 58, was granted Accelerated Rehabilitation - a first-time offender program - during a hearing Thursday in Bristol Superior Court. As part of the program, she will be on a pretrial form of probation for 18 months. During that time, she has been ordered to make a $200 donation to a fund set up for crime victims, avoid any new arrests, not own more than four animals and to have no involvement with any animal shelters.
If Talley is successful with those conditions, 24 counts of cruelty to animals will be dropped on Feb. 20, 2019. The charges were filed after Talley allegedly allowed for poor conditions at Almost Home.
Talley’s attorney, Robert Ziegler, whose office is based in Plainville, called the program a “fair resolution” to the case.
“It spared the uncertainty of a trial,” Ziegler said.
According to the arrest warrant, a Plainville animal control officer received complaints about the condition of the shelter about two weeks after the facility opened in July 2015. The officer said she repeatedly found the shelter, which was housed in two garage bays, smelling like feces and urine, and said she made several attempts to instruct Talley on how to provide clean conditions for the animals. During visits by the ACO, several animals in the facility were found with no water, the warrant said. Many of the animals were also sleeping in cages filled with urine and feces that were too small to allow them to move, according to police. Some of the animals were sick or injured and needed medical care, but Talley allegedly lied about which veterinarian she used and attempted to get a different veterinarian to write a letter stating she was a good animal owner and that she used the vet's animal hospital, according to the warrant. Additionally, volunteers of the shelter were allegedly placing linens on top of urine and feces instead of cleaning up cages, the warrant said, and cats with kittens were nursing in their litter boxes because they had no room to lie down, the document continued. In December 2015, police seized 43 animals from Almost Home before the shelter was shut down. The town cared for the animals before they were adopted. Plainville had filed a lawsuit seeking $17,000 in reimbursements for housing the animals, but that civil action was dismissed by a judge last October.
Ziegler said town officials also sought restitution through the program Talley will be using, but the judge handling the case denied that request and did not allow them to speak at the AR hearing Thursday.
The town of Plainville is appealing the lawsuit dismissal. Ziegler has previously referred to that suit as a "witch hunt" against his client that was "maliciously" done. In response, Talley filed a lawsuit in March 2016 against the town of Plainville, saying it should not have named her in the lawsuit and should have directed it toward the nonprofit shelter, which had opened in July 2015. This caused Talley undue stress that resulted in physical and emotional harm, the lawsuit alleges.
Ziegler on Friday said he’s expecting his client to receive compensation in her civil action.
“The town’s taxpayers should be concerned with what this will cost them,” he said.
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.