LORAIN - A 75-year-old Lorain woman pleaded no contest to an animal nuisance charge for failing to care for several birds she owned.
In exchange for her plea, Lorain city prosecutors dropped additional charges of cruelty to animals, barking dogs and failure to register animals against Bettie Palella.
Defense attorney John Prusak said his client agreed to the deal in part because she wanted to be able to have visitation rights to some of the birds that she had to surrender to Elita Animal Rescue as part of the plea bargain.
"They had some of her birds and she wanted to keep in contact with them," he said. "She claims she loved those birds."
Palella had about 20 birds and three dogs when she moved out of her West 27th Street home after it was foreclosed on in May, and the city`s animal control officer received a tip that they were not being cared for, according to court records.
Prusak didn`t deny his client had left the animals at the house, but only because she was still in the process of moving and was feeding them twice a day.
"She`s very upset by it," he said. "She feels the animals were not mistreated."
Most of the birds - mostly small songbirds - and the three dogs that were in the house were returned to Palella soon after they were seized, but Prusak said the authorities kept the more exotic birds and those were the animals turned over to Elita.
Palella was found guilty and fined $150, which was suspended. She must also pay court costs.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.