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Oakland attorney convicted of animal cruelty in mistreatment of cats

Van Dusen told the court she rescued stray and feral cats no one else wanted.
Van Dusen told the court she rescued stray and feral cats no one else wanted.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Jan Van Dusen, of Oakland, Calif., was found guilty on Thursday of animal cruelty for mistreating nearly 100 cats according to a report by She could face up to three years in prison, a fine, or probation.

A felony conviction could mean Van Dusen could be suspended or disbarred from practicing law in California.

During a bench trial, Alameda County Judge Gloria Rhymes found Van Dusen, 62, guilty of one count of felony animal cruelty.

In 2012, authorities raided her Magnolia Street home in West Oakland and seized 93 cats and two dogs who had been living in poor conditions. Some of the animals were emaciated, suffering from diarrhea, and parasitic. Eleven dead cats were found in the freezer.

Within a short period of time following the raid, 16 cats had to be euthanized; the 77 others were put up for adoption.

According to the Mercury News, Judge Rhymes stated:

"It's the magnitude of the conditions in which these animals existed; it's the magnitude of the suffering that leads the court to say this was needless suffering."

Van Dusen argued that a diarrhea outbreak caused the horrible conditions, and she had been working on getting the condition of the cats and her home back into control when authorities raided her home.

In 2011, Van Dusen beat the IRS in allowing her to claim charitable deduction expenses for the cats she cared for in her home. Allowable deductions included food, veterinarian bills, cat litter, and a portion of her utility bills.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 25.

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