SOUTHINGTON -- Southington police have accused a Bristol woman of selling an underage kitten that died earlier this month.
Abigale Jones, 31, of 489 Wolcott St., Bristol, turned herself in on Tuesday on one count each of sale of an underage kitten and second-degree violation of conditions of release.
Jones already faces similar charges filed by Bristol police last year. Judicial records indicate that case is still pending, and that she is enrolled in a diversionary program.
Southington police on Tuesday said that Jones allegedly adopted out a kitten on July 28 for $150. The complainant told officers she was told by Jones that the animal was 8 weeks old, though she said she believed it was younger and that Jones was not honest about the age or the kitten’s health.
Veterinarian paperwork later revealed the animal was about 5 to 6 weeks old when it was sold, police said.
Jones, according to police, runs Tenderheart Rescue out of Bristol.
After bringing the kitten home, the complainant told police, it appeared weak, had difficulty eating solid food and later developed diarrhea. The kitten was found dead on Aug. 2, leading the complainant to immediately contact Southington Animal Control after noticing the veterinarian paperwork indicated it was under 8 weeks old.
Southington police said an investigation determined that Jones was primarily responsible for the animals being cared for and adopted out, and that she had knowledge of the kitten’s real age but did not disclose it.
“This likely resulted in the kitten being unknowingly neglected of adequate care such as kitten formula, likely contributing to its decline and ultimate death,” Southington Lt. Keith Egan said.
Jones was held on $50,000 bond and was expected to be arraigned Tuesday in New Britain Superior Court.
Jones was previously arrested in Bristol in November following an investigation into Tenderheart Rescue, which she founded and owns, based on allegations that she was selling underage kittens that were sick and dying.
A state and Bristol Animal Control Officer visited Jones’ home last fall 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 in the Bristol case 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 Bristol and state officers last fall that 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, at the time, 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 it’s not always under a veterinarian’s direction, according to the warrant in the Bristol matter.
The investigating ACO in the Bristol case 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 charged last fall with 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.
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or email@example.com.