A married couple that was arrested earlier this month for animal cruelty may be facing prison time, according to Assistant State Attorney James Parker. He says officials in his office are pursuing additional charges on Ella and Allen Kirkham - 31 counts on each of them. They have an arraignment date on these charges of August 8th at 9 a.m.
Inside those 31 counts: 20 are felony counts of cruelty to animals; 10 are misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals; and 1 count of selling or distributing an animal with a contagious or infectious disease.
Parker says while a plea agreement may be available to the Kirkhams, his office will be seeking prison time for these charges.
The Kirkhams were arrested on July 1, each charged with health-safety of animals cause cruel death, pain and suffering - third degree felony; health-safety nuisance injurious to health - second degree misdemeanor; and health-safety sell dispose let roam diseases animals - second degree misdemeanor.
225 cats were seized that same day on a warrant that was issued after an undercover investigation revealed sick animals were being adopted out from Kirkham Kattery Rescue, Inc., according to Sheriff's reports.
Though the structure was actually a house in a residential neighborhood off of Avalon Blvd., it was registered as a non-profit shelter. As a non-profit, sheriff's officials say it had a certain amount of protection - more so than a business that would be regulated by law.
The case came to fruition when Santa Rosa Animal Services reported to the Santa Rosa Sheriff's Office, that they had been receiving complaints about Kirkham Kattery Rescue, Inc. for years but had been unable to gain access inside, according to a sheriff's report.
Once Sheriff's investigators completed a controlled adoption of cats from the Rescue, there was enough evidence to obtain a warrant and examine the remaining animals, according to reports. The cats adopted by undercover Sheriff's deputies were ill with a litany of diseases.
Animal Services employees, along with a volunteer veterinarian, were with the seized cats until after midnight that first evening. 86 were euthanized due to positive feline leukemia tests. More cats were put down in the days to follow. Around 66 cats remain at the shelter under quarantine now.
The community recently answered the call for assistance from Santa Rosa Animal Services when they announced they needed Cat Chow and non-clumping cat litter.
It will still be a while before officials at animal services know if the cats are healthy enough for adoption, according to County Spokesperson Joy Tsubooka. Some deadly diseases can lie dormant with no symptoms while exposing healthy animals to the illnesses.