Police arrest alleged cat thief
Stonington — Police have arrested an Old Mystic woman and charged her with cruelty to animals and stealing people’s pets in conjunction with an April 10 incident in which they seized 24 cats from her home.
Michelle A. Courter, 43, of 63 Main St. turned herself in Monday night after police had obtained a warrant for her arrest.
She was also charged with running an unlicensed pet shop and failure to have a license to procure pets for resale. She was arraigned in New London Superior Court this morning and is scheduled to appear again in court on May 7.
Police have held all but one of the cats at the town’s animal control facility since the seizure. That cat had been returned to its owner.
After the seizure, Courter said she was running a shelter for feral cats.
“They made it sound like I stole people’s cats and resold them for money, which was totally wrong,” Courter said at the time.
She said she goes to private residences and different areas and traps feral cats and vaccinates them. She added that she was unaware of any town regulations that prohibited her from running the cat rescue from her home.
Police said they seized the cats after an investigation into the illegal trapping and sale of cats. That probe was prompted by a complaint about the welfare of the animals during last month’s flood.
Animal control officers believe the cats were taken from several area towns, including Groton, Quaker Hill, New London, Uncasville, Norwich and Stonington.
Police have advised residents whose cats have gone missing in the last year to check the Petfinder website at www.petfinder.com.
People have contacted police with offers to adopt the cats. Courter has signed a release that would allow that to happen.