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Cat rescuer who took IRS to court and won loses her cats

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Jan Van Dusen of Oakland, Calif., made headlines last year when she took the IRS to court for the right to deduct the thousands of dollars she spent as a volunteer caring for stray and feral cats. Van Dusen, a former family court lawyer, won her case, which was hailed as a victory for animal rescuers nationwide.

However in October Van Dusen returned to court on a much different circumstance. She is facing one count of felony animal cruelty regarding the 93 cats and two dogs she kept in her own home. Oakland Animal Services officials raided her home with a search warrant and found the majority of Van Dusen’s cats suffering with ailments ranging from parasitic infections to malnutrition, according to SF Chronicle. Animal officials euthanized 16 of the cats, who they deemed suffering from severe health problems.

The charges against Van Dusen could result in a $20,000 fine and up to three years in jail. (Note: According to articles in the press, Van Dusen was to appear in court on January 23 but nothing has yet appeared regarding that court appearance.)

Help needed for the animals

Oakland Animal Services took Van Dusen’s animals into custody following their seizure. For three months, they were in a legal limbo while the court considered if they could be released while the case was pending. Recently Alameda County Superior Court gave Oakland Animal Services the authority to find homes for the animals.

BrightHaven, a SF Bay Area rescue is taking a lead role in trying to find homes for the cats, many of them older or special needs, some feral as well. One of the dogs also is a senior. The rescue reports it needs places for the animals to go, and time is of the essence.The tame cats need foster and adoptive homes; the ferals need safe yards or barn homes where they can live out their lives.

BrightHaven also is seeking donations since a lot of the older cats and the senior dog have serious dental problems. Any donation will be greatly appreciated. You can donate at the BrightHaven website. Note in the "comments" section that the donation is for the "Magnolia cats."

If you live in the SF Bay Area and would like to adopt or foster a cat or have a safe haven for a feral, you can see all the cats here.

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