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Owner who abandoned 29 cats in apartment sentenced for animal cruelty

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- A Grand Forks man was sentenced this week to 15 days in jail for animal cruelty after leaving 29 cats in a Grand Forks apartment.

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- A Grand Forks man was sentenced this week to 15 days in jail for animal cruelty after leaving 29 cats in a Grand Forks apartment.

Billy Ray Hackler, 57, pleaded guilty Monday in Grand Forks Municipal Court to a Class B misdemeanor charge of cruelty to animals for abandoning the cats, which were taken to Circle of Friends Humane Society in Grand Forks, where they joined dozens of others that have been brought to the already overloaded shelter.

A warrant was issued for Hackler's arrest after Grand Forks police responding to a report of cats left in a vacant apartment at 401 N. Fourth St. found more than two dozen in the unit without food or water.

Grand Forks Community Service Officer Jean Youshefski, who usually responds to animal calls in the city, said the conditions in Hackler's apartment were the worst she had ever seen in her more than 20 years on the job. "(In the apartment) there was a mattress and that was about it," she said. "And there were just urine and feces and flies--it was horrible."

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