October 7, 2014
By Diane Pineiro-Zucker, Daily Freeman
The executive director of the Ulster County SPCA is celebrating the end of what he described as “one of the most heart-wrenching animal cruelty cases in recent memory” in a recent post on the organization’s Facebook page.
Adam Saunders wrote Friday that the case involving an elderly Wawarsing woman and her daughter was “heart wrenching, not only for the sheer volume of animals, but for the human cost, a cost that frames a problem without any easy answers.”
In February, the Ulster County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals charged Helen Deschambeault, 86, and her daughter, Joan Radinoff, 61, with animal neglect after seizing 42 cats “out of a home saturated in fecal waste and urine, and mountains of human refuse,” Saunders wrote.
“The place was disgusting. Nobody should live there, people or animals,” Saunders said Tuesday.
The two woman faced similar charges in 2009.
Since the February seizure, Deschambeault and Radinoff had obtained another 12 cats, all of which were removed on Sept. 17, he said. The cats removed in September were in “OK shape” but all suffered from respiratory problems, “which was the result of living in that house,” according to Saunders.
Last week, the two women pleaded guilty to single counts of failure to provide sustenance and agreed to a conditional 12-month discharge under the condition that they will not live with or harbor any animals for one year, he said.
In response to a plea from the defendants that they were particularly fond of two of the cats, Wawarsing Judge Wayne Lonstein asked the SPCA to place the two cats in foster homes for one year, Saunders said. After 12 months, the SPCA will return the cats to Deschambeault and Radinoff “should they manage to clean the house up,” Saunders said.
The SPCA will be allowed to visit the Wawarsing home twice in the next 12 months to determine if the women are in compliance with the judge’s order, Saunders said, adding that he doubted the pair would be able to remedy the situation sufficiently to allow for the return of the two remaining cats.
Another animal cruelty case was resolved on Sept. 23, when Richard Stumer of the town of Ulster pleaded guilty to one count of failure to provide sustenance.
Stumer was charged on July 17 with failure to provide sustenance to 22 cats at his home at 92 Vincent St.
In the Stumer case, Saunders said, all of the cats were surrendered and Stumer was granted a one year conditional discharge, with the SPCA conducting four visits to the home during that time. Stumer was ordered not to own or live with any cats for 12 months, Saunders said.
The court granted Stumer custody of a 15-year-old dog “with a lot of health issues” who was also seized in July, because he didn’t want the dog to die at the SPCA. He was allowed to keep it as long as he continues to provide treatment for the animal’s medical conditions and establishes a relationship with a veterinarian.
Stumer “agreed without hesitation” to the stipulation that, if he fails to care for the dog, he will be sent to the Ulster County Jail for 30 days, Saunders said.
Another animal cruelty case also had a somewhat happy ending this week after all but four of 25 horses seized in May from Constance Dirago of Plattekill were placed in new homes by a horse rescue group, Saunders said. The remaining horses are awaiting placement, he said.
Three of the 25 horses in Dirago’s care at the time of the seizure were returned to their original owners.