An Annandale woman whose three-story town house is home to more than 100 cats has been charged with failing to provide adequate care after several sick felines were found there, Fairfax County police said yesterday.
Kristin Kierig, a Navy program analyst who gained attention two years ago for taking in dozens of abandoned and sick cats over the years, is accused of being an unfit owner. A court hearing is set for next week at which her fate--and that of her cats--will be determined.
It is the first time charges have been filed against Kierig, 48, who began caring for cats in 1989 and at one point had 171 in her house. County officials who went there last week, acting on a neighbor's complaint, counted 114.
There is no limit on the number of cats allowed in a private residence in Fairfax. Animal wardens, health department officials and vets who inspected Kierig's house in the past always reported clean conditions.
But an animal control officer who went there Saturday found several cats that appeared to be sick, including one named Cleo that had several contagious infections and had to be euthanized, police spokeswoman Jayne Woolfe said.
Kierig yesterday defended her treatment of the cats, saying: "I'm not an unfit owner. I had been treating Cleo for a stuffed-up nose, but it turned out Cleo had cancer."
Kierig said a neighbor complained that she was taking in more cats as others in her care died, in violation of an earlier warning she'd received from animal control. When the officer went to her home Saturday, Kierig said, she told the officer she had taken in some cats "but then I stopped. I've turned lots of cats away."
Kierig was the subject of a front-page article in The Post two years ago that described her passion for her cats, many of them abandoned because of divorces, allergies and family relocations. For now, she is being allowed to keep her cats, pending next week's hearing. If deemed an unfit caretaker, she would have to relinquish them and could be fined up to $250.
Kierig said a veterinarian, who routinely comes to her town house and who inspected it on Monday, will testify in her behalf.