OAKLAND -- An Oakland attorney who sheltered roughly 100 cats in her West Oakland home is facing a felony animal cruelty charge after city animal services officers determined a majority of the felines were in bad health.
Jan Van Dusen, 60, faces up to three years in prison if the case gets to a jury, and she is found guilty of the charge.
Van Dusen was charged last year after Oakland Animal Control officers raided her 1,500 square-foot home in response to complaints from neighbors who reported a large number of cats in and around her property.
Van Dusen declined to comment Wednesday but has made statements in the past saying that many of the cats were her pets and the others were feral that she was getting spayed and neutered in an attempt to cut down on growing feral populations.
In addition, she emailed two sworn declarations from Rene Gandolfi, a Castro Valley veterinarian, who said an examination of the cats seized by Oakland Animal Control showed no signs of neglect.
But Alameda County District Attorney spokeswoman Teresa Drenick said the conditions of the cats and Van Dusen's home prompted the office to seek a felony charge.
"Based on all the circumstances involved, it seemed to warrant a felony charge," Drenick said.
Van Dusen, a volunteer for Fix Our Ferals, made national headlines last year by winning a federal tax case in which she claimed more than $12,000 in tax deductions for taking care of her cats. In the
A federal Tax Court judge agreed. But now Van Dusen finds herself back in court.