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Published: Thursday, 11/2/2000

Pet shelter operator allowed to continue

Patti Rood, flanked by Judy Winhoven, left, and Nikki Wharton-Elby, inspects cats left outside Lend-A-Paw Foundation's door. Patti Rood, flanked by Judy Winhoven, left, and Nikki Wharton-Elby, inspects cats left outside Lend-A-Paw Foundation's door.

The founder of the Lend-A-Paw Foundation and Puppy Nursery will continue her shelter's operations despite last week's animal-cruelty conviction, a judge ruled yesterday.

Patti Rood, who still must pay a $150 fine and was given a 45-day suspended jail sentence for the conviction, had been worried that Toledo Municipal Court Judge Arlene Singer would close the shelter on Airport Highway.

Ms. Rood made no statement during the brief hearing. She later said it was a relief that the shelter would continue operating, but that it continues to be a financial struggle to find homes for unwanted cats.

“A typical day at the shelter is you come in and there's a box of kittens or cats left for you,” she said. “And then you get these calls, people with hard-luck stories. You can't turn them down.”

Ms. Rood no longer is linked with the Lend-A-Paw Feline Shelter on Hillwyck Drive. The two shelters maintain different budgets, staff, and operations - and a legal battle continues over the use of their names.

The hearing yesterday capped more than a year of legal wrangling after Toledo Humane Society investigators in September, 1999, raided her Airport Highway shelter and seized more than 100 cats.

Many of the cats, the society claimed, later died or had to be euthanized because of the overcrowding and lack of veterinary care at the clinic.

Humane Society staff said they simply wanted to make sure Ms. Rood was limiting her cats to what she could adequately care for. Ms. Rood countered that she was underfunded and overwhelmed and that the agency was trying to put her out of business.

In November, she pleaded no contest to one of three counts of animal cruelty and Judge Singer reserved judgment on the condition that Ms. Rood would limit her operation to 50 cats and up to 10 nursing kittens.

After Humane Society officials several weeks ago alerted the judge that Ms. Rood had housed more than the limit, Judge Singer found Ms. Rood guilty of animal cruelty in that Ms. Rood had failed to provide adequate medical care for the animals.

But yesterday, Judge Singer, herself a cat owner and member of the local board of Planned Pethood, said she felt Ms. Rood was acting out of kindness and had not intentionally hurt the animals.

Moreover, the judge said she believes the area's number of cat shelters is inadequate. Although she warned Ms. Rood that she is under a one-year probation and still may serve jail time, Judge Singer lifted the 60-animal restriction.

A telephone survey of representatives from several local animal organizations yesterday found that, many were working at capacity. For example, the Lend-A-Paw on Hillwyck had 56 cats and had turned away more than a dozen people, shelter manager David Plunkett said.

Planned Pethood, which relies on foster homes, was caring for 15 to 20 dogs and cats, President Ron Schmidt said.

Judge Singer said there are too many stray cats for too few shelters and Ms. Rood, assuming she can adequately care for the cats she takes in, does serve the community. “I do believe she's sincerely interested in helping the animals,” the judge said. “I don't think the community has adequately addressed this issue, and we'll give this another chance.”

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