Virginia Cat Hoarder Who Killed 221 Cats and Kept Another 354 in Abominable Conditions Gets Off With $500 Fine
In what has to be one of the most egregious miscarriages of justice in history, a Fairfax County, Virginia cat hoarder who killed two-hundred-twenty-one cats through either neglect, starvation, or just plain meanness and kept another three-hundred-fifty-four in a squalor of excrement and inbreeding was let off last week with a minuscule fine of $500.
Eighty-three year old Ruth Knueven (See photo above), formerly of Ludgate Drive in Mount Vernon, beat the rap after her shyster, Jonathan D. Frieden, convinced General District Court Judge Donald P. McDonough that his client was not only mentally ill but also a devout lover of cats. In a plea bargain worked out earlier with the prosecution, Knueven, who now resides in Prince William County because her previous home (See photo at the bottom of the page) was declared uninhabitable due to a thick buildup of feline urine and feces, was allowed to plead guilty to one charge of misdemeanor animal cruelty in exchange for the dropping of four related charges against her.
In a thinly-veiled attempt to cover up his own complicity in the killings, McDonough first sentenced Knueven to 360-days in the stir and fined her $2,500. He then suspended the sentence and reduced the fine to a paltry $500. The defendant was placed on probation for one year and barred from owning any more cats. The judge is quoted in the December 15th edition of the Washington Post as saying that he was excusing Knueven's behavior because it was "undertaken initially in the spirit of generosity and care, however misguided." (See "Woman Admits Guilt in Cat Case.")
Frieden, who successfully argued that his client suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder, told the court, "She loved these animals. She thought they needed her, and she was afraid to call the authorities, fearing they'd be euthanized."
Frieden's rhetorical flourish is disingenuous and McDonough's compassion is misplaced. As reported by Cat Defender on July 21th (See "Northern Virginia Woman Caught Hoarding 575 Cats"), this is not Knueven's first brush with the law. Back in August of 2001, authorities removed one-hundred-fifteen cats from her home but unwisely allowed her to keep five other cats. It is not known how many dead ones were removed. In July of this year, 306 live cats and 87 dead ones were removed from a house that Knueven shared with her husband. A few days later, 48 live cats and 134 dead ones were removed from the home of her fifty-seven year old daughter, Karen Forrest, on Lakepointe Drive in nearby Burke. During the interim between searches, Knueven was even so brazen as to attempt to obstruct justice by shuttling the cats between houses.
The Washington Post is not honest enough to admit it, but most likely all 354 cats trapped at both residences (See photo above of a policeman with several caged cats) were later exterminated by animal control personnel. Although these licensed cat killers trot out all the usual justifications for their barbarism -- cats are too wild, diseased, inbred, etc., in reality they hate cats and are all too eager to snuff out their fragile lives. Even if that is overstating it a bit, it would not make any difference because in addition to being murderers they are too cheap to board them and too bone-lazy to find them homes. In Virginia, as is the case everywhere else in the corrupt-to-the-core United States, nearly all public spending from here until doomsday is already earmarked for the pockets of crooked politicians and the clients that they serve.
Tufts veterinarian Gary Patronek, who is an expert on animal hoarding, is not persuaded that hoarders are motivated by altruistic concerns. On the contrary, he is convinced that they are mentally disturbed exploiters of animals. Specifically, he believes that the process of collecting and then subsequently neglecting scores of vulnerable animals fulfills some unrequited need in them and not vice versa.
The trial in Fairfax makes a mockery of justice. In particular, all of the sympathies ladled upon the defendant by both the judge and her lawyer are especially odious in that they were not accompanied by an iota of compassion for the victims. It is high time that the courts recognized the moral imperative that cats are living beings also and that feline life is not any less precious than human life.
By setting the going rate at $500 for killing 575 cats, the court is saying that the life of a cat is worth less than $1. Knueven sure got her money's worth! Although a judge may consider a defendant's age and mental soundness when meting out punishment, neither factor, whether taken singularly or together, should be so construed as to bestow a carte blanche right upon a defendant to massacre cats. Knueven accordingly should have been jailed and fined heavily. Furthermore, since no evidence has been presented by the media that her accomplices are either too old or too mentally deranged to be held accountable, they too should have been forced to stand in the dock.