Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

6 months in jail for Va. woman who had 56 cats

A veterinarian aid who allowed 56 cats to live in filth is being sentenced to six months in jail.

Animal control officers in Chesterfield County found the cats living in a three-bedroom home she rented. The house reeked of ammonia from urine, children's swimming pools were filled with animal excrement and the remains of dead animals littered the home. One carcass was found in a cutlery drawer.

Patti “Cookie” Wheeler was sentenced Thursday on counts of felony vandalism and animal cruelty. All but six months of was suspended.

The 52-year-old also is barred from possessing or keeping a companion animal for the rest of her life unless under the supervision of a veterinarian or other animal caregiver.

-- Richmond Times-Dispatch

By Washington Post Editors  |  June 4, 2010; 8:13 AM ET
Categories:  From the Courthouse , Virginia  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Discussion about religion ends in brawl in Illinois
Next: Woman's skull, bones found in Dale City woods


I feel sorry for whoever she was renting her house from.

Posted by: MarilynManson | June 4, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: lulu202 | June 4, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

She's really a veterinarian? Can her license be revoked?

Posted by: DecafDrinker | June 4, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Someone should do a show about making over crazy people's houses. I can only imagine what needs to be done to this house. Maybe start with gasoline?

Posted by: 123cartoon | June 4, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Many years ago I was a prosecutor in Loudoun County. One of my cases involvled a woman who had over 60 dogs at her place. She believed they were fine, but they were in similar shape to the cats described in this article. When a judge took the dogs from her "care" in a civil case, he set an appeal bond of $100,000 to cover the cost the county had already expended to care for the animals during the trial process.

The woman promptly and smartly burned her house to get the insurance money to post the appeal bond for her beloved pets. She was later convicted of arson for that one.

Animals collectors have a certain strangeness. I, for one, am very glad to see that the behavior is being dealt with now. The collectors have some choices, the animals do not.

Posted by: svmoonshadow | June 4, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: akksaucedo8706 | June 4, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Cookie Wheeler should have been sentenced to clean cat litter boxes for 6 months...and eat the contents.

Posted by: angelos_peter | June 5, 2010 2:11 AM | Report abuse

It would be easy to say that justice was served and she got what was coming to her, but she is a mentally ill woman who will serve 6 months for killing animals with good, albeit woefully misguided, intentions. Meanwhile no one ever seems to get significant jail time for malicious, deliberate, wanton cruelty to animals. I am not defending this woman, but, for perspective, Michael Vick served 19 months for running a dogfighting operation and for hanging dogs and strangling them with his bare hands.

Posted by: carlaclaws | June 5, 2010 2:30 AM | Report abuse

What kind of modern society believes that jail cures mental illness?

Posted by: member8 | June 5, 2010 2:42 AM | Report abuse

Okay. So she goes to the slammer. But anyone sharing a house with 56 animals, some of them dead, and their urine and feces isn't functioning mentally. I hope she gets the mental health treatment she desperately needs as the Commonwealth of Virginia exacts its need to punish her.

Posted by: BlueTwo1 | June 5, 2010 5:19 AM | Report abuse

They have a medical diagnosis for animal hording these days. They're just cats. The mortality rate is probably less than what you would see in a junk yard cat population.

Posted by: blasmaic | June 5, 2010 6:46 AM | Report abuse

member8 said it right: What kind of modern society believes that jail cures mental illness?

Another example of Middle-Age mentality is piling criminal charges on a parent for accidentally leaving a child in a car in the hot summer heat. This sort of thing never used to occur but suddenly has been appearing in the news not because parents today are less responsible but because of a well-meaning change in the safety guidelines for location of a child safety seat, from the front seat - visible to the driver - to the back seat, away from the view of the driver.

Car manufacturers or producers for the car aftermarket - or the safety officials responsible for the well-intentioned change with the inadvertent but awful side effect of death in the summer heat of the very ones they are trying to protect - ought to step up with something to help parents prevent these horrific deaths.

A criminal trial and sentence in those situations just adds to the misery of an already very miserable parent and does no good at all.

Posted by: cmckeonjr | June 5, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Local public health should prohibit the landlord from ever renting out that house again, if it is not condemned (like it should be!). The cat-urine ammonia smell will never come out of the carpet, the walls, etc.
Too bad the address cannot be listed with this article to warn people away from seeking to rent this house. It will NEVER be clean enough to be healthy for anyone to live in.

Posted by: momof20yo | June 5, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

This is not 'animal care'. This is animal hoarding--which is often associated with mental illness.
The cats have very likely in-bred and are likely suffering from various illnesses, none of which makes makes them able to be adopted. Some cats have probably become feral as well, if threatened with lack of proper care and food.

There should have been 'warning signs' prior to her arrest which apparently were ignored.

Posted by: momof20yo | June 5, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

In America, "Land of the Free", the prison system has taken over from the public-health system as the main provider of mental health services.

This criminalization of mental illness is unconscionable in a country that so prides itself on "liberty." But, as with so many things about our monstrously huge prison system, most Americans don't know and don't care about this enormous problem.

Posted by: kcx7 | June 5, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Meow, meow, meow. Woof, woof!

My cats and dogs think this idiot needs a brain enema.

Posted by: veerle1 | June 5, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

I'll bet she won't get her security deposit back.

Posted by: tomtildrum | June 5, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company