MONTEREY, Calif. (CN) - The St. Francis All Creature Rescue and Sanctuary kept dozens of animals in emaciated, inhumane conditions without access to food or water, four California district attorneys claim in court.
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals last year seized 17 animals in Monterey County and 61 in Fresno County after receiving complaints that the All Creature Rescue and Sanctuary, named for the patron saint of animals, was selling unhealthy animals, according to the complaint. District attorneys for Fresno, Monterey, Contra Costa and Tulare counties sued the sanctuary and its leader, Crystal Kisicki, in Monterey County Superior Court in Superior Court.
The sanctuary, holding itself out as a nonprofit, advertised on Facebook as a "true no-kill rescue, dedicated to helping animals of all kinds" and "to safeguarding the rights of all creatures in need of our help, which is accomplished through the care and rescue of animals, the placement of such animals in permanent, loving, forever homes, and the education of the public about responsible pet care," the lawsuit states.
Its ads on multiple websites - including petfinder.com and adopt.dogtime.com - stated that all money received from adoptions went directly back to the organization, the complaint states.
Actually, the sanctuary kept animals living in inhumane conditions, apparently with none of the donations going to their care, the prosecutors say says.
The sanctuary "misrepresent(ed) animals at adoption events as healthy and at a certain age, when in fact, the animals were in poor condition and older than represented," the complaint states.
In June 2013, the Monterey County SPCA received complaints that the sanctuary was selling unhealthy animals at two pet stores in Monterey County. An investigation the same month revealed that Kisicki was keeping dogs, a kitten, and two birds - 17 animals in all - in her vehicle, the complaint states.
Later that month, the Central California SPCA claimed that Kisicki was keeping a large number of emaciated animals in inhumane conditions in Fresno County. The animals had no access to food or water, and the properties had "numerous piles of trash, buckets of soiled cat litter, empty food bags, and animal cages," indicating an animal hoarding issue, the lawsuit states.
In all, nine dogs, three cats, one pig and 38 birds were seized from the Fresno County properties, according to ABC news station KFSN.
Kisicki pleaded no contest in January to two charges of animal cruelty related to the 17 animals seized by the SPCA in Monterey County. She was sentenced to 10 days in jail and 3 years probation, and is not allowed to possess any animals except the three dogs she already owns, according to CBS news.
The district attorneys seek an injunction preventing Kisicki from possessing, rescuing or adopting any animal, from starting up the St. Francis All Creature Rescue and Sanctuary again or working for any other animal rescue group, and from soliciting funds on behalf of the sanctuary.
All profiles for the sanctuary must be removed from online sites, including Facebook, petfinder.com, adoptapet.com and petstyle.com.
The district attorneys also want Kisicki and the sanctuary to pay at least $250,000 in civil penalties for fraudulent and unfair business practices and false advertising.