A Minnesota woman, who was arrested last year after 64 cats were found dead at her animal rescue center, was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty to animal mistreatment.
According to the criminal complaint, Caycee Lynn Bregel, 26, ran the nonprofit "Minnesota Animal Rescue" out of her home in Dakota County. In May 2018, the Animal Humane Society received multiple calls about a pig running loose. An AHS agent, along with law enforcement officials, arrived at the home that had "an overwhelming odor of urine and feces." The floors and walls were "covered" in droppings. Officials found dead cats buried in shallow graves in the backyard.
The following day, officials searched the property again and found carcasses of 64 cats in freezers, refrigerators and in the garage. Apart from the dead cats, several dogs were also found in poor health.
Officials allowed a woman into the house to feed the animals. She told the officials it seemed like the animals were not fed for several days and that several cats looked "emaciated," Fox 9 reported.
The Dakota County Public Health Department condemned the house and the AHS evaluated the surviving animals, which included 43 cats, one guinea pig and five dogs. They found the animals were suffering from respiratory tract infections, ear mites and fleas. One cat had to be euthanized because its eyeball had popped out of its socket.
A necropsy conducted on the dead cats showed starvation as possible cause of death, since no food was found in the cats' stomachs and intestinal tracts.
The criminal complaint stated that Bregel received 144 cats and a dog from the Animal Humane Society between July 2017 and February 2018.
"We could check on a foster today and they're perfectly fine and tomorrow they break. If we knew why people do what they do, we'd fix it, but we can't withhold animals from everyone because we have a suspicion that there's going to be a problem," said Animal Humane Society investigator Keith Streff.
Bregel pleaded guilty to 13 counts of animal mistreatment and was sentenced to two years probation and 200 hours of community work service. She was also forbidden to own or care for animals.
Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said, "The abuse and mistreatment of animals in the manner that occurred in this instance was unconscionable," the Star Tribune reported.
This article originally appeared in IBTimes US.