Abandoned cats found to be owned by SF woman

By Paul Glader The Associated Press
Wednesday March 20, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO — A woman suspected of animal cruelty for hoarding cats in Petaluma is now under scrutiny in Sausalito, where police are investigating a batch of 50 felines living in squalid conditions. 

Marilyn Barletta, 63, walked into Sausalito Police headquarters Monday and complained that her cats had been seized from an office space she had been renting for a few months. 

A veterinarian who owns the building told police the cats were kept in filthy living conditions. 

“He had been receiving complaints from other tenants about the smell and cat noise,” Sausalito police spokesman Kurtis Skoog said. “He went in there and thought the cats were not being cared for.” 

Skoog says the landlord didn’t want animal control to destroy the animals and sent them to a cat rescue organization in Los Angeles. He also cleaned the office space. 

The Marin Humane Society and police are investigating before deciding whether to press charges for animal cruelty. 

“She wanted to get the cats re-acclimated after they were spayed. That’s what she said,” Skoog recalled. 

Barletta currently faces four felony charges of animal cruelty for keeping 196 cats at a home in Petaluma. If found guilty, she could face up to five years in prison. 

She was arrested May 22 and charged with one felony count of animal cruelty. She has pleaded innocent and posted $50,000 bail. 

Barletta lives in San Francisco but bought the two-story Petaluma house solely for the cats, driving from her San Francisco home to Petaluma daily to feed the animals, though the house soon fell into disrepair with cat feces and warped floors. 

Barletta’s attorney L. Stephen Turer said he just heard about the Marin County cat stash today. He said his client appears to have been keeping the cats with hopes of adopting them out to other people. 

Turer said he doesn’t think she has more cats in other places and isn’t sure where she gets all the cats. 

“I don’t know,” he said. “I have wondered myself where she finds them.”