Ruth Knueven has lost her cats, and she will be on supervised probation for one year to ensure that she complies with the agreement to never have pets again.
At a Dec. 14 court proceeding, Knueven pleaded guilty to cruelty to animals and received a 360 day suspended jail sentence. She was ordered to pay $500 of a $2500 fine. Additional charges of obstructing justice, failure to dispose of dead cats and two counts of failure to care for animals were dismissed.
The charges arose this past summer after animal control officers found 493 cats, some dead and some alive, in both Knueven’s home and at the Burke home of her daughter, Karen Forrest. Forrest was not charged.
Knueven apparently suffered from mental illness when went on for years, and at least one neighbor had called to complain. In 2001, police removed 120 cats after a complaint.
When the problem continued, neighbor John McEwan contacted an official from animal control in July 2002. McEwan said that he actually met with an animal control official in Fair Lakes and was told that the situation would be taken care of. McEwan said that they told him that they were on top of it and that he wasn’t the first person to complain.
Nothing, however, was done until July when the smell became so overpowering that another neighbor called to complain. This time, animal control officials found so many cats living inside that they condemned the house and ordered Knueven and her family to leave the premises.
Further investigation found dead cats in cages, cats in the walls, and the house in an uninhabitable condition.
Knueven has since moved to Prince William County and a developer purchased the home on Ludgate Drive. They will be renovating the house and putting it on the market.