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Woman Pleads No Contest to Animal Cruelty Charges

January 08, 2002|GENE MADDAUS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

An Ontario woman who kept 24 Saint Bernards and the carcasses of other dogs in deplorable conditions in her home pleaded no contest Monday to four counts of felony animal cruelty.

Patricia Fraus, 65, faces up to 30 days in county jail and five years of probation at her sentencing Feb. 13.

The plea means that 21 of the Saint Bernards soon will be available for adoption. The Inland Valley Humane Society says it has spent nearly $100,000 to take care of the dogs since they were seized April 12 and Fraus' home was condemned.

"We're very anxious to place these animals in permanent homes," Humane Society Executive Director Bill Harford said.

Harford said he had received about 200 applications to adopt the dogs. James Edward, supervisor of administrative services for the Humane Society, said that 21 of the 24 dogs remain at the shelter after two were returned to their rightful owners and one died.

Don Pezza, a deputy district attorney for San Bernardino County, said he would try to persuade Judge Paul Bryant to sign a court order releasing the dogs in the next couple of days.

Pezza said that Fraus appeared to have "a good heart" and did not intend to be cruel, but that her situation got out of control.

Under the terms of her probation, Fraus will not be allowed to care for animals and will be subjected to unannounced searches by the Humane Society, Pezza said.

Fraus' associate, Jacqi Killeen, also pleaded no contest Monday to a misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty. She faces three years of probation and the same restrictions on dog ownership, but no jail time.

She will have to pay restitution to the Humane Society, but the amount has not been determined. Pezza and Killeen's attorney, Robert Rice, said it was less than $5,000.

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