“BEST OF BREED” FANCIER CHARGED IN MAJOR NEGLECT CASE
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2000:
MODESTO, Calif.––Free on
$10,000 bond, Debra Rexelle, 48, whose cat
Ashmanor Duracell was judged best of the
Turkish Van breed on the Cat Fanciers
Association show circuit during the 1998-1999
season, pleaded innocent on August 23 to 13
counts of felony cruelty to animals plus four
On August 10 rescuers and Stanislaus
County officials removed from Rexelle’s
rented home 212 mostly sick or injured cats,
15 of whom died or were euthanized before the
arraignment. Many of the cats endured the
summer Central Valley heat in stacked cages.
Others were in backyard sheds.
The rescue team also found the rotting
remains of at least 50 cats and kittens.
Some were reportedly piled inside a broken
freezer in an attached garage. More were in
trash bags or empty cat food bags.
Also seized were a rooster, two
hens, and a pigeon.
Microchip scans identified three cats
who may have been with Rexelle on breeding
or show loans from other cat fanciers. At least
10 other cat fanciers claimed to have left cats
Rexelle was the second Cat Fanciers
Association national award winner to be arrested
for neglect in 15 months. The other, Sheila
Dye, 53, breeder of 1997 CFA “Best kitten”
Queen of the Desert, was raided by animal
control officers and police in Casselberry,
Florida, on May 18, 1999. Queen of the
Desert was among 14 cats found alive on the
premises, with the remains of three others.
Another prominent cat fancier,
Laurie Bobskill, 48, of Springfield, Massachusetts,
surrendered 126 allegedly neglected
cats to the Massachusetts SPCA in July 1996.
Fifty-eight more live cats and three dead cats
were removed from her home by the MSPA in
October 1998. Bobskill showed Munchkins, a
variety not recognized by the CFA.
The Rexelle case involved by far the
most cats––and, like the second Bobskill
episode, might have been seen coming,
reports by Modesto Bee staff writer Michael G.
Mooney indicated. Cat fanciers who knew
Rexelle only through the CFA and
International Cat Association show circuit said
they were astonished, since the cats Rexelle
exhibited always looked and handled well.
But Rexelle was fined $60 in 1993 for having
more than 50 cats on her premises without a
proper license, after two women who looked
after her cats while she was at a show in
Tennessee reported severe neglect to the
Stanislaus County animal control and environmental
Karen Ohl and Mary Leaven said
they found 122 cats in all, many of them ill
with bloody diarrhea. Six grown cats were
crowded into some cages
meant for litters of kittens,
Ohl and Leaven told
the authorities, and
garbage was everywhere.
Ohl said she had been
assured that Rexelle and
her animals would be kept under observation.
Mid-August also brought two major
seizures of allegedly neglected animals from
the premises of dog fanciers.
Near Palm City, Florida, Martin
County sheriff’s detectives and animal control
director Bill Williams implemented their hurricane
disaster rescue plan to accommodate 95
Lhasa apso terriers, who were removed from
the property of Barbara Alesi, 57, on August
11, and were sheltered temporarily at the
county fairgrounds. Sheriff’s sergeant Ken
Ault said the county had tried to encourage
Alesi to clean up and fix up for at least two
years. Alesi was allowed to retain custody of
16 dogs and puppies as personal pets.
In Conroe, Texas, the Humane
Society of Montgomery County and
Montgomery County Animal Control department
struggled to care for 75 starving
Labrador retrievers, taken from the premises
of breed rescuer Kathleen Anthony in nearby
New Caney. A well-regarded rescuer since
1993, Anthony was hospitalized in May of
this year, and apparently had no one reliable
to attend the dogs in her absence. The Austinbased
Heart of Texas Labrador Rescue chapter
of the National Labrador Association promised
to help rehome the dogs.
Three canine neglect cases involving
prominent kennels were settled in August.
In Fremont County, Colorado, a
jury on August 2 found sheltie breeder
Eugenia Swim, 63, of Penrose, not guilty of
neglecting 16 adult dogs and 34 puppies who
were allegedly found in filthy conditions in her
home on February 4 by animal control officers.