A woman whose home was once singled out by authorities as the worst hoarding case in Palm Beach County history was released from jail Tuesday afternoon after she was arrested a day earlier on more than three dozen animal cruelty charges.

West Palm Beach woman facing 45 counts of animal cruelty released from jail

Janna Howard, 60, came under scrutiny March 6 when fire rescue crews were called to her Greenacres home for a medical emergency. There they discovered an ill Howard living on her patio while some 50 cats were crawling among trash heaps. Authorities found that the home’s doors, windows and vents were covered with duct tape so neighbors could not smell the urine, feces and garbage that had accumulated.

Fire rescue alerted the county’s Animal Care and Control department and Greenacres code enforcement officials eventually condemned the home. Howard moved to an apartment in West Palm Beach, according to jail records.

Howard, an Air Force veteran from 1974-83, was booked on 45 counts of cruelty to animals, according to an Animal Care and Control probable cause affidavit.

She appeared before Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Charles E. Burton Tuesday morning in a wheelchair. He ordered she be released from jail under supervision and ordered her to have no contact with animals.

In an April Palm Beach Post article, Animal Care and Control Capt. David Walesky called the home’s conditions “deplorable” and said, “it is probably the worst hoarding case that we’ve seen in Palm Beach County.”

The scene inside a Sherwood Lakes townhome in Greenacres, where authorities last month found 45 cats scaling the trash heaps and two other cats dead. Officials called it the worst case of animal hoarding they had seen in the county

“I’m glad to see she could face prosecution for what she’s done to the animals there at her residence,” Walesky told the PostTuesday. “I think she needs to get some help for sure. It’s going to take more than prosecution to help her from doing this again.”

Walesky said Howard was involuntarily committed to a mental health center in March because she was seen as a danger to herself. She spent time at JFK Medical Center in Atlantis then was transfer ed to the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Riviera Beach. He said Howard is currently in some type of assisted living or health care program.

According to the affidavit released Tuesday, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies, the Greenacres Fire Marshal, code enforcement officers and Animal Care and Control officers all were dispatched to the home on 27th Lane in March.

The Fire Marshal decided that the home was unsafe for anyone to enter, or stay long enough to remove the cats. However, officers wearing “industrial strength respirators” were eventually able to enter the home and round up the cats with traps.

Several cats had eye and nasal discharge and some had ulcers, according to the affidavit. Some were dehydrated and many had severe signs of upper respiratory infections.

By March 16 all but two cats were dead, according to the affidavit.

A veterinarian concluded in March that Howard, who was a cantor at St. Juliana Catholic Church in West Palm Beach for eight years, denied the cats the five freedoms of animal welfare: Freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury and disease; freedom to express normal behavior; and freedom from fear and distress.

“Had these animals not been subjected to a hoarding environment, had been provided clean air, food and water as well as routine preventative veterinary care such as vaccinations, survival and longevity would have been far greater,” an officer wrote in the affidavit.

News Link:http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/crime-law/worst-hoarding-case-in-county-history-west-palm-wo/nPqMb/