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Titusville Man Facing Over 800 Counts Of Animal Cruelty, Neglect Charges

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Over 800 Counts of Animal Cruelty, Neglect Charges Filed Against Area Man

Aly Delp | May 5, 2021

handcuffs-crime1-2.jpgCHERRYTREE TWP., Pa. (EYT) – Over 800 counts of animal cruelty and neglect charges were filed against an area man on Wednesday following an investigation of animal abandonment at a property in Cherrytree Township.

Court documents indicate 55-year-old Jeffrey Ralston, of Titusville, was arraigned in front of Magisterial District Judge Patrick E. Lowrey at 2:12 p.m. on Wednesday, May 5, on the following charges:

– Aggravated Cruelty to Animals – Torture, Felony 3 (196 counts)
– Aggravated Cruelty to Animals – Causing Serious Bodily Injury or Death, Felony 3 (50 counts)
– Cruelty to Animals, Misdemeanor 2 (196 counts)
– Neglect of Animals – Sustenance/Water, Misdemeanor 3 (196 counts)
– Neglect of Animals – Shelter/Protection, Misdemeanor 3 (196 counts)

Ralston is currently free on $5,000.00 unsecured bail.

The charges stem from an investigation into an animal cruelty report received on March 22, 2021.

According to a criminal complaint, Venango County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy and Humane Police Officer Merle Glesey received an animal cruelty complaint from the Pennsylvania State Police on March 22 regarding a report of a large number of chickens, rabbits, and cats abandoned at a location on Fairview Road in Cherrytree Township, Venango County. It was also reported the owner of the property had not been seen for at least one week.

Officer Glesey then used the Venango County Parcel Viewer to identify the owner of the property, who he found was Jeffrey Ralston. Officer Glesey and Sheriff Eric Foy then traveled to the Fairview Road residence.

According to the complaint, the officers discovered a truck in the driveway, that appeared to not be drivable, and two mobile homes on the property.

While the officers were attempting to make contact with the residents of the mobile homes, they discovered several cages with chickens in the front yard of the first mobile home. They also noted the home did not appear to be livable, and they then went to look at the second mobile home.

The complaint states they found additional cages containing rabbits, with no food or water, and a large amount of feces inside. They discovered the second mobile home had no door, and when they looked inside, they saw more rabbit cages in the same conditions as the ones outside and heard birds which they believed were more chickens.

The officers then continued to the back of the mobile home, still looking for someone to contact, and came upon a small camper located at the end of the mobile home.

According to the complaint, they also observed several birds inside the mobile home through the glass sliding doors.

Upon closer inspection, they found the camper door was open, and no one was inside. The camper did not appear to be livable and had additional cages inside of it, the camper notes.

When they moved back to the front of the mobile homes, they came upon more rabbit cages, with no food or water, and a small black cat. Due to the condition of the mobile homes and the camper, as well as a large amount of garbage in the structures, they came to the conclusion that no one was living at the property, according to the complaint.

The officers then spoke to nearby neighbors.

The neighbors reported nobody had lived there for “a while,” but someone in a car would stop and get the mail.

Based on their observations and preliminary investigation, the officers requested and were granted a search warrant for the property, which was executed on March 24.

A search of the property on March 24 found eight chickens in one cage in the front yard in poor condition with no food or water and several eggs laying in the muddy bottom of the cage, according to the complaint.

In the first mobile home, they found empty cages, but no animals. Between the two mobile homes, they discovered several cages and counted seven rabbits inside, including one that had died, with no food or water and a large amount of feces in each cage and on the surrounding ground.

The complaint states they also discovered cages with eleven more rabbits, in poor condition, inside the second mobile home. However, they were unable to enter the structure due to the possibility of low oxygen inside. They then moved to the back of the second mobile home and saw, through the sliding glass doors, several caged birds and rabbits, but they were unable to get the doors open due to debris holding them shut.

They proceeded to the camper, where they found more empty cages and remains of bones in one of the cages.

While checking the east side of the yard, they found, under a blanket, several more cages with six more rabbits with no food or water, the complaint indicates.

Firefighters from Cherrytree Fire Department then arrived with self-contained breathing apparatus to enter the second mobile home.

They found around sixty more rabbits and sixty-five more chickens inside the structure, including several of each that had died, the complaint states.

On March 25, the officers returned with personnel from the ANNA Shelter, CART volunteers, volunteer firefighters, personnel from Franklin Animal Clinic, and other volunteers to assist in rescuing the animals.

A total of five chickens, six rabbits, and one quail were found deceased. The other animals, which included 79 chickens, 92 rabbits, two chinchillas, and six quail, were transported to the ANNA Shelter in Erie to receive medical treatment, food, water, and shelter, according to the complaint.

The complaint states that Ralston arrived at the property during the rescue. He reportedly admitted to owning the property and all of the animals and said he had just returned from a trip to Florida. He then agreed to sign a relinquishment for all of the animals.

Police also confirmed with the hotel that Ralston had been in Florida from March 17 through March 24, according to the complaint.

According to the complaint, “Ralston tortured the animals by being an experienced breeder and owner of animals for the past 30 years and taking the animals to shows and should have known the proper husbandry the animals required such as food, water, and clean shelter.”

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on May 12 in Venango County Central Court with Judge Lowrey presiding.

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