Town to Pay $1000s for Cats in Animal Cruelty Case, Says Defendant [Updated 11 a.m.]

'Judge said it was the town's fault for starting the civil trial and it created an unnecessary burden for me and my mother,' says one of the defendants.

A judge ruled Tuesday that the town of Stratford will have to pay thousands of dollars for the ongoing shelter of four cats involved in an active animal cruelty case, according to one of the defendants.

William Perreira and his 91-year-old mother, Marion Perreira, were both .

But before bringing criminal charges against the Perreiras, the town filed a civil suit against them, which deals with the custody of the four cats seized Oct. 28, 2011 from the Frash Street home they both reside at.

"Civil is for possession so they can keep the animals," said William Perreira, whose mother doesn't want to give up her cats.

The two cases have complicated litigation as each trial could affect the outcome of the other, according to Judge Dale W. Radcliffe. And it seems the town isn't certain on how to proceed either, as it has asked for and been granted a motion for continuance five times since March 2012, according to court documents.

What Radcliffe ruled Tuesday in Bridgeport Superior Court, according to William Perreira, is that the town is responsible for the $15/day shelter fee for each cat, retroactive to early January when the Perreiras first appeared in court after being arrested.

As of Tuesday, the bill topped $16,000. The town will continue to be responsible for the fees until the criminal case is finished, according to Perreira. Only after the criminal case ends can the civil case start, the judge ruled, according to Perreira. The Perreiras will only be responsible for the shelter fees after the criminal case if they lose the civil case.

"Judge said it was the town's fault for starting the civil trial and it created an unnecessary burden for me and my mother," he said.

Perreira said Judge Radcliffe told the town not to bother with an appeal of the ruling because it won't change.

"The town will be appealing the ruling, but probably cannot do so until the final outcome of the case, which is likely to be many months from now," Stratford Town Attorney Tim Bishop said Wednesday, in an email. "The town's position has always been that the two cases involve different remedies and can proceed independently."

Bishop continued, "We argued that a criminal defendant is protected by his/her right to invoke the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination in the civil proceeding and the law quite clearly contemplates this exact situation in cases of animal abuse and neglect, where the animals' best interests lie in placing them in a good home as swiftly as possible."

"I'm told today that the judge gave the criminal defendants additional relief in the form of not holding them accountable for the statutory costs of housing the animals while the criminal charges are pending," Bishop wrote. "The unfortunate result for the Stratford taxpayer is that we all have to pay to house animals in a shelter while the person accused of neglecting them can drag out the criminal and civil proceedings without any consequences."

Bishop concluded by saying the town expects the Appellate Court to side with them, and that the town will be seeking to recover legal expenses as well.

The civil case was continued to October. William and Marion Perreira are due in court for their criminal cases Friday, Sept. 7.

For more background on this case, see (Note: Marion Perreira has .)

stick lee September 06, 2012 at 11:13 AM
This case AND the shepherd case !!!
Debbie September 06, 2012 at 11:32 AM
@Shirley..of course they want their animals back,especially when they have been falsely accused.The cats and the dogs were taken 2 days apart,how many other "cruelty "cases did ACO's "investigate" in the past year or so??I know of 3,maybe they are looking to get some kind of award/s.I think they need to be investigated and investigated properly not they way they investigate!
Semi Happy Resident September 06, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Stan, I agree! When you look on the docket# listed for my mother and brother, it shows all the continuances asked for by the town. If the town's attorney was paid by salary I bet this case would have moved a lot faster than it has. And to think Bishop claims they want the best for the animals is appauling. If they were worried about the cats the town could have finished this a long time ago so they could be in whoever's home the court felt fit to take care of them NOT left in that shelter in cages where they can just about move around in. for 1 year.
Semi Happy Resident September 06, 2012 at 12:46 PM
My mother is going to trial over this situation because she does not want to settle like Dawn did in the dog case. She needs to pay $20,000, get 5 dogs back, receive councelling AND allow the ACO into her house anythime they feel like it for the rest of her life. This is leaving her open to going through the court process over & over again if the ACO feels in any way shape or way she wants to remove the animals again. The ACO may have a valid claim or she may just be having a bad day & wants to take it out on somebody. Hmmm, who could I give a hard time to, ah yes, the dog lady sounds good. My mother doesn't want to settle because she feels she will then be living in fear for the rest of her life that animal control can come in any time they want, take the cats again, & rack up the legal fees all over again. Who needs that at any age? There is something very wrong with animal control in their tatics of removing the animals, going to court, RETURNING the animals back to the very person they brought to court for various levels of abuse only to do it all over again because they returned the animals to the person they claimed were abusing them. I don't know if they are sadistic sociopaths that take joy in making another person's life so miserable by using the courts to beat a person down or they are just trying to justify a big expensive building by listing a large number of animals being processed there, but something is very wrong with the current ACO's.
stick lee September 06, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Ms. Pieger was beat down even with an attny. It was either keep fighting,paying, appeal, etc.= $$$$$$$$. If she was as guilty as claimed would it have taken this long to get nowhere? An get some dogs back? She obviosly cared too much for those dogs to take it to the end and possibly lose them all.
Semi Happy Resident September 06, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Stick Lee, ACO's giving the animals consistantly back to the supposed abuser just makes my head spin. Hopefully Dawn Pieger moves to another town where they have normal ACOs & even if this follows her the new ones won't be as agressive as the ones in town. As far as my understanding of how her case went was that when she learned that her dog started chewing its own tail off due to conditions at the animal shelter she settled right away. This is what my mother had told me at the time as how the case progressed. I do know that when my mother complained about one of her cats being sick under the ACO's care, the next time she visited them the sick one had all its hair shaved off. This was during the Winter when the cat needed its fur to keep warm. When she complained about what was done to her cat, she was advised it needed to be groomed due to matting. Anyone that has an animal, knows that they need to be brushed regularly, especially in their situation at the shelter. My mother claims that the cat's fur was not matted the week before but after her complaint a complete hair shaving was done which, if there was any matting there in the first place could have been brushed out, not shaved off in Feb. And it had nothing to do with it being sick in the first place. ACO also claimed the cat was not sick. So if it's not sick and just matted then why shave the cat? Especially since there was no issue the week before. Was it done out of need or out of spite? You decide.
Semi Happy Resident September 06, 2012 at 06:05 PM
P.S. If the cat's fur was as heavily matted as they claimed and a complete shaving was needed to correct the problem, why did the ACO's let it get that bad in the first place? They had the cats since Oct and matting doesn't get to that level overnight. They can't claim they got the cat that way because it would or should have been corrected when they first examined it. Unless their examination methods are severly lacking which would open up questions of how good their ability is to determine if the animal was actually abused in the first place. If it happened exactly like they claimed, it got that bad over 4 months. This just shows how little they actually care for the animals at the shelter. 4 months of feeding them and exercising them as well as socializing them and nobody noticed one cat getting matting so bad it needed to be shaved. Nobody from STARS or the ACOs noticed a problem. One complaint and it bacame a problem. Either the ACOs don't know how to properly do their job and need to be replaced since they don't have the knowledge needed to care for animals or they are vindictive when somebody challenges them. Either way they should all be fired and replaced with ACO's that actually know the proper treatment of animals.
Debbie September 06, 2012 at 09:03 PM
The dog was chewing it's tail and when Ms.Pieger mentioned it to them ,the dog was taken to one vet then to Snowflake where they amputated some of this show dogs tail.She did not "settle" because of that.It was the constant continuances,not being able to visit the way the court had ordered and being accused of animal cruelty.She took better care of her dogs then she did other things.Except when her father became terminally ill and she was the main caretaker for him.I too believe that these cases are somewhat spiteful.They went after these two women with determination for some reason.I only hope your mother has the spirit and spunk to not give up.If Ms.Pieger was able to afford to keep paying an attorney she would have done so also.
Semi Happy Resident September 06, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Debbie, I am so sorry to hear about Dawn's father, It's bad enough to have to go through that but to add all the stuff animal control did to her on top of it is enough to break anyone. My mother was guessing why there was a sudden change in her position and when the info came out about the dog's tail she thought it was for that reason. I apologize for mistating why she ended the case. As far as my mother goes, she is turning 91 this month and just received a clean bill of health from the dr where he said he is amazed by how healthy she is. When she asked if she would live to 105 he said he didn't know about that long but she had many more years ahead of her. If the town is trying to stall the case so she dies before it goes to trial they are in for big a surprize. In general her side of the family lives into the late 90's and early 100's so she has at least another 10 years in her. RIght now she is healthy both mentally and physically and has reports in both areas to prove she is more than capable to care for her animals. If anything this has her blood boiling and its keeping her going until the end. In a way I should probably thank the ACOs and the town attorney for getting her moving around going to court all the time since they are probably helping extending her life! So, Thanks Rachel, Sterret, Angelique, Tim & Chris for helping me keep my mother around longer!
stick lee September 07, 2012 at 01:24 AM
This is how good the dogs were looked after by a vet under stfd ac. One dog, with countless trophies, ribbons,and award plaques lost part of its tail. Two dogs that were returned were checked at a vet immediatly after leaving stfd ac, one has tumors and one with an ear infection so bad it'll probably be feaf in that ear. Feeling proud now you poor excuse for a caring bunch of aco s?
Semi Happy Resident September 07, 2012 at 02:19 AM
That is so sad that the people that are arresting the residents for animal cruelty are the ones causing more of it & the town continues to let them do it by turning a blind eye to the problem. When challenged, they arrest the person to shut them up. When my mother complained about the poor conditions her cats were in & suddenly the room had a broken lightbulb, AC also claimed one of her cats instantly had a large tumor in its mouth & was at the vet to be checked out. The following week the cat was in it's cage with no tumor. They are still waiting for the vet report. Some have asked why AC had it in for these 2 people. Ms Pieger had winning show dogs & was not allowed to keep them all in the settlement. What happened to the rest of them? Were they kept by one of the ACOs for show, given to friends for breeding or were they adopted out to regular families? What money was charged for the adoptions for the ones not returned to her? It would be interesting to know if they charged more due to their quality. In my mother's case she won in preventing the new animal shelter from being built in back of her house. I have felt from the beginning that had been why they stormed her house & used strong armed tatics to take her cats, remove her furniture & claim her house was full of feces like they did in Dawn's case. Even the published pictures that the town released showed no feces in the pictures. But because animal control said it's there the town goes along with it.
Semi Happy Resident September 07, 2012 at 02:40 AM
PS You don't create winning show dogs & become a respected breeder with the AKC by having filthy conditions for the dogs. Something is very wrong with animal control & it's a travesty that the mayor doesn't step forward to call for an investigation by the Attorney General. Instead he chooses to do nothing & stay quiet. To me if I were mayor, I would rather investigate a dept. & be known as a mayor that corrected a problem if one was found than to be known as a mayor that chose to do nothing. Either way I may be a one term mayor but I would rather go out with my head held high & know I helped make the town a better place. To the mayor - If the town attorney is telling you to stay quiet due to legal issues, what does your heart tell you? Do you believe the attorney or do you think they are trying to cover something up? What will a full blown honest investigation uncover except the truth? Either AC is doing a top notch job & is not double billing the town as well as doing their job better than any previous ACO or all the claims against them are true & they need to be replaced. If you believe they are top notch then they have nothing to hide & nothing will come out of an investigation except being exhonerated. By contiuning to do nothing or having an in house investigation it appears that a coverup is in place with plenty to hide.
max September 07, 2012 at 10:28 AM
MEOW.....$16,000 for animals being sheltered by the Town? Animals not adoptable and in ownership limbo? As a taxpayer and voter, I say return the animals to the family. The family appears to continue their relationship with the cats after all these months, if they can take care of the animals at their house, allow them to take them home.
Semi Happy Resident September 07, 2012 at 01:10 PM
Max, I wish it was that simple. The ACO & town attorney will fight this to the end due to it being so public. My mother needed to go public in order to try to obtain an attorney since she has no money to pay one. Now if they win the case, it will put both departments in a very bad light. Neither dept wants to have egg on their face nor do they want to be challenged in the future. No, they will go the distance for as long as they can to beat my mother down. From the beginning they didn't want to talk to her about what happened, nor did they want to go to her house to look at what was done to it. The town attorney even told the Health Dept not to go there to verify the conditions. Why didn't they want to check it out? What were they afraid of finding out? They don't care about who is telling the truth, or the animal's welfare. If they did, they would have gone forward with this case a long time ago NOT talk about the case still going through many more months as in Tim Bishop's current statement to the Editor. I think even a defendant for a murder case would have gone to trial before this case will. I feel this case is more ego led than fact based which will come out in the trial if the town stops asking for continuances. From my point of view you either have enough evidence to proceed with a case or you don't. It should be illegal for an attorney to hold a case in limbo just to make the defendant give up due to lack of funds just so they can say they won the case.
k-9 lover September 07, 2012 at 02:14 PM
So , whats it been, two months since the stfd pd announced an investigation? Its like we're living in Mayberry rfd. And officer Fife is heading the investigation.
Stan Hands September 07, 2012 at 02:38 PM
If the Patch wants a real hot story they should FOI all of the costs associated with the attorneys and the results of all of the cases fought. If people really want to see where money is being wasted and funneled this is where to look. I am sure it would be a ground breaking story.
Semi Happy Resident September 07, 2012 at 03:10 PM
k-9, if my mother's case is any indication of how long the town's process is then you have a lot more time to go before a result of an investigation comes to light if at all. They may be dragging the AC investigation out so people forget about it all together. 1 year or more from now they will say everything is OK there and people will say oh, I vaugely remember something about that. Oh, well, at least everything turned out to be OK. Everything is then swept under the rug and the tax payers get stuck again.
Semi Happy Resident September 11, 2012 at 03:17 AM
An update - the town has asked for another continuance which my mother & brother will object to but it will be up to the judge to decide if it will be granted. Just think, criminal & civil charges, 4 cats being in custody for 11 months & attorney fees, all because my mother didn't get the rabies shot for all the cats in the time frame ACO wanted - after they removed almost all her furniture, clothing & food. Because she needed to replace necessities that she had no prior knowledge of them removing it took her longer to get things accomplished. When she complained, they took the cats without verifying if they had their shots or not. If they had bothered to ask prior to storming her house they would have found out that one had their shot but they took it anyway. The other 3 were either scheduled or in the process of being scheduled. Instead, they show up with the police and take the cats. To make matters worse, after they had the cats in custody, they didn't bother to get the cats their shots because, get this, AC isn't required to get the cats rabies shots. In other words, they can arrest you because the animals need the shot but they can put your animal in with every stray out there & not be required to protect them by getting them vaccinated. Makes you wonder how important the shot is needed in the first place, never mind if it's done on time. Just so everyone knows how much this is costing 4 cats = $60 a day 4 cats = $420 a week 4 cats = $1,800 a month
Larissa Watt September 11, 2012 at 03:35 AM
Why are these cats in the town's care yet she is able to keep the other cats? I 'm confused. If the cats are checked out and documented healthy it is cruel to keep them in crates!!
Larissa Watt September 11, 2012 at 03:41 AM
$1,800 a month to house the 4 cats. This has gotten out of hand. How many cats does your mom have altogether, Barbara? Is she able to feed them all and change their litter in a timely fashion?
Semi Happy Resident September 11, 2012 at 04:54 AM
Larissa, My mother had 5 cats at the time AC came in with 2 - 3 police cars, 2 fire trucks & 1 building inspector. The house was OK'd & AC found 4 cats. They then brought in a heat seeking machine to find the last cat within the walls. When unable to locate the cat, it was determined as lost. One of the cats AC currently have has had their rabies shot & when shown proof of the vet's vaccination, AC still refused to release the cat back to my mother. So technically, the town is paying for a cat that never should have been removed in the first place. The other 3 were in the process of getting their shots & depending on how you view the contract with the modification done by the vet to have her NOT bring in the cats in according to the contract due to them becoming ill from getting the rabies shot too soon, my mother may or may not be viewed as violating the contract. She notified AC of what the vet had said via answering machine since they would never return her calls. Due to a lack of co-operation with AC, she & the taxpayers are where we are at today, having criminal & civil charges filed for 3 cats not getting shots by the time AC wanted them even though it would be risking the cat's health by getting them done according to their contract. She has 1 cat pan for each of the cats & changes them daily or more depending on how they used the boxes. She also was feeding them with no issues & deemed within normal range by AC's own records.
Semi Happy Resident September 11, 2012 at 05:19 AM
My mother has made the comment more than once that all of this could have been avoided if AC had bothered to return her calls. When AC came, they came solely to remove the cats out of spite as far as I am concerned. They never showed a warrant, announced what the warrant was for, nor did they even ask to see any vet records. They were there to remove the cats no matter what my mother had. After all this time they still haven't even returned the cat that got his rabies shot. When AC was shown proof of vaccination at the time, that cat should have been returned immediately not held for the last 11 months. That is my opinion, but then, if I was in charge of AC I wouldn't have issued a restraining order to Lewis the cat like Rachel did when she was in Fairfield. I just don't have the need to get all crazy bringing people to court & tying up the system when there are real animal cruelty cases out there that should be brought to trial. If Tim Bishop is correct about the judge being against the town all the time, maybe he would be more in their favor if they brought true cruelty cases to court so that the courts wouldn't be wasting their time with a trial over whether or not my mother should have a criminal record at 91 because she may or may not have been 2 weeks behind on a rabies shot. Then again, maybe Rachel & Sterret are police wannabes since they seem to get a rush out of all the drama of having the police & fire dept at my mother's house to remove 4 cats.
stick lee September 12, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Not Sterret......tha aco who couldn 't pass the test to become a cop?
Semi Happy Resident September 12, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Stick Lee, If that is true then it proves my comment of them being police wannabes. Since they couldn't make it with the actual police force, they make up for it using strong arm tactics in animal control. It would be interesting to find out why they were turned down and whether or not Rachel applied to the police force in Fairfield or Stratford and was rejected as well. The reasons could be very enlightening as to their mentality in how they do their current jobs here in Stratford. Also, if what you have stated is true, my hats off to the police dept for NOT accepting a candidate(s) that have a tad bit of agression in going above and beyond the call of duty as demonstrated in the last few animal cases.
Michael September 13, 2012 at 12:13 AM
First of all, let's hear it for Jason and the Patch. The only way to communicate with the " Powers that be ", was either send a letter to the editor of the Stratford Star, which published once a week with room for 3 - 5 letters, or to go to the Stratford Town Council once a month and be able to speak for 4 - 5 minutes. Now we have a forum where we can express our views amongst like-minded people. Monday night I took Mrs. Perreira to the Council meeting. I brought her up to the podium and introduced her as the person the Town of Stratford (Animal Control) has arrested and has spent the past year wasting tax-payer money persecuting her for alleged cruelty to her cats. The Town ( attorneys) have drawn this out attempting to wear her down. I've known Marion for almost 15 years and I can assure you and the Town that she will never give in to this injustice.I told the Council that in my professional opinion, ( 26 years Animal Control Officer in Stratford) that I felt that this prosecution was a miscarriage of justice, an abuse of power by Animal Control, and abuse of her rights to a speedy trial under the Constitution.
Michael September 13, 2012 at 12:16 AM
I had intended to speak to Mayor Harkins personally about this situation but unfortunately he did not attend the public section of the Council meeting. I'm happy to report that 5 other people spoke on behalf of Mrs. Perreira. What I would like to do in the coming weeks is to gather some like-minded people together and form a protest at the Shelter on a Saturday, (the Shelter is public property) with signs and chants and bodies after Channels 3, 8, and 12 have been notified, to also attend another Town Council meeting with a full contingent of people showing solidarity, and putting political pressure on this Administration to end this abomination. My father taught me as a young man the when you see injustice being perpetrated on anyone but, especially a senior citizen, if you don't take some kind of action, you are just as guilty as the perpetrators themselves.
Michael September 13, 2012 at 12:26 AM
I would like to gather together as many like-minded people as possible for a peoples crusade against the injustice and meet on some Saturday, possibly on the grounds of the Shakespear Theater and put together a plan of action for Mrs. Perreira. Please contact me -grfiffinmh@yahoo.com.
stick lee September 13, 2012 at 09:20 PM
...hold on people, lets not forget the third cog in the wheel at the stfd. ac. Angeliqua Fitzmorris who has been named as a complaintant in a few of these actions.....OK..please continue.
stick lee September 23, 2012 at 08:17 PM
9-21-'12... the town gives notice to appeal.. so on it goes.
will porter December 18, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Wp Jason is there anything new in this case? I understand that the perreira 's have pictures of dirt and filth at the animal shelter.I also understand that the town attorney for Stratford filed an objection to a motion in civil court stateing that the perreira's were not harmful or cruel to their animal's.the perreira's go back to criminal court on January 22nd,by that date the bill for room and board of their cat's will be over 23 thousand dollars plus attorney fees


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