Woman accused of animal cruelty may have placed hundreds of cats in homes

Lisa Richards, the Trumbull woman accused of cruelty to animals when she allegedly returned a sick cat to its owner following a neutering operation, may have taken thousands more to a Waterbury clinic for neutering.

Richards was the subject of an on-line feature story that appeared on the website feralcatsconnecticut.wordpress.com in 2010. According to the story, written by Sean Maloney, who described himself as a Quinnipiac graduate student studying online reporting, Richards regularly held adoption events at the H3 Pet Supply Store in Shelton. In one day, according to the story, she brought 13 cats to the store and placed five in homes.

Richards told Maloney that she traps feral cats in the area and brings them to the H.O.P.E. spay and neuter clinic in Waterbury. According to the story Richards said she averages 400 cat adoptions a year and brings about 4,000 cats to the clinic for sterilization annually. She also said she takes back adopted cats if things don’t work out with the new home.

On Wednesday, police reported Richards had been charged with animal cruelty in a case dating back to August of last year.

According to the police report, a Newtown woman had adopted several kittens from Richards, 48, in the past, with the understanding that Richards would be responsible for taking the cats to get their shots and for neutering. Over several years, she had paid Richards more than $1,000 for such services, and showed police $523 in receipts from an organization called “Operation Spay,” a non-profit feral cat outfit that Richards apparently founded.

In June, the woman adopted “Jack” from Richards. She dropped off the cat with Richards on Thursday, Aug. 2 for Richards to have the cat neutered and to get his shots. When she picked the cat up on Monday, she said it did not look good, but Richards reassured her Jack was simply stressed from being around other cats.

The woman later decided to bring the cat to a vet, though Richards tried to talk her out of it, saying the cat only needed to have antibiotic ointment applied to the site. The woman eventually brought Jack to the vet, who said the incision looked unusual and that the cat’s abdomen was not shaved, as is typically the practice for neutering. The incision was infected and necrotic, the vet noted.

Richards said she brought Jack to a vet Aug. 3 to be neutered, but the veterinary office she cited told police they had not treated Jack and had not performed any surgery at all on Aug. 3.

Richards has been charged with misdemeanor cruelty to animals for failing to properly care for an animal in her care. It is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. She was released on a promise to appear in court Jan. 29.