Reader Tami writes:

Good news in cat rescue can be hard to find. The story of Julianne Westberry in SC has been particularly hard to swallow. She was trusted by so many. I worked side by side with her in the Anderson County Humane Society Spay/Neuter Clinic. She seemed to have a stream of foster homes and adopters. She was given the “Volunteer of the Year” award by ACHS in May 2014!  One month later, she was arrested for ill treatment of animals.

A passerby stopped to ask if the furniture on her porch was for sale. When the odor from inside, and the fly lined, paper covered windows were noted, authorities were notified. Authorities whose facility could be seen out the window of her house, less than 100 feet away!

Inside, they found 32 live cats, 37 deceased. More bodies were found by the owners of the rental house when they went in to clean up. It is believed, at least 25 more bodies. The true number of deceased may never be known. Many were so decomposed, they only way to know they ever existed was by fur and pieces of their tiny bodies. She pulled moms and kittens. Left them in their carriers. There, they died. One, Venus, was only ID’d by her microchip. I’ve seen pictures, not released to the public. Of the 32 survivors, 4 have since died. I have one, who was in some of the worst condition, in the care of my wonderful vets.

Thanks to the dedication of Ash Truesdale, volunteer with Foster Paws Rescue, it has been found that she pulled from 16 CONFIRMED shelters. In a little over a year, over 800 cats and kittens. She was using 3 different aliases. Her name, JW, J’s Kitten Cottage, and unbeknownst to them, the 501c3 of Anderson County Humane Society. She was accepting pledges for these cats. THAT may be the only way for these cats to get justice. Internet fraud.

It was also learned, many of the cats had been taken to her boyfriend’s farm. She lived there, most of the time. Those who have seen the farm give estimates of 70-300 cats that are alive. Others who died have been disposed of (so we are told). After JW was released, the boyfriend contacted Anderson County PAWS, the local impound, to owner surrender the farm cats. Anderson Co was given the go ahead to begin trapping. Cats would be trapped, taken to Anderson Co PAWS, and summarily killed. After all, they were “just cats”, not needed for criminal investigation and PAWS is “already full” from a previous hoarding /rescue that’s awaiting court. They don’t have the space, staff, funds, etc to save the cats.

Those following the case found out about Anderson Co’s plans on Wednesday, July 2. On Monday, July 7 at 6 PM, the cats would begin dying. “No exceptions”. 30 cats, already trapped and in custody had been given a death sentence. The facility would be closed on Friday July 4. Open for a limited time on Sat July 5.

Enter the “irresponsible public”…

Wednesday PM, July 2– much hand wringing and public outcry on the PAWS FaceBook threads as word spread.

Thursday, July 3– a meeting of about a dozen people. The only way to save these cats, these cats who had been promised a safe loving home, these cats who had already once escaped the needle or gas chamber, was to acquire a building. But we were going into a holiday weekend. People were out of town, businesses were closed. Ash knew folks would help, IF these cats could find safe haven (shelter) for a brief time.

Friday, July 4– Geneva Lawrence, a member of Kitten Action Team, spread the word. She had found someone to donate a facility for 6 weeks. Volunteers would be given keys at 5PM on Sunday, July 6. The cats HAD a building! An empty building.

Pregnant cat being sheltered by volunteers after being saved from the Anderson Co pound kill room.  [Photo via Facebook]
Pregnant cat being sheltered by volunteers after being saved from the Anderson Co pound kill room. [Photo via Facebook]
Again, the news was shared. A building was found. No cages, no food, no litter… The media was contacted. When the keys were handed over, a local news crew was there to document volunteers, with brooms and rags. Cleaning the building. Cages were loaned by multiple rescues. A wish list was set up. Amazon and UPS became aware of the multiple packages they would begin shipping. Transport from Anderson County to the building in Mauldin, SC was arranged for the cats. 

Volunteers were there on Monday, July 7 setting up for the arrival. Again, multiple news media were there. Currently there are over 50 cats and kittens. Kittens born at PAWS. Most of the females are pregnant. All are receiving care. All are alive. All of this, thanks to the public. As you like to say, the REAL humane society – small “h”, small “s” – wants to save lives. And they will.

Thank you Tami for sharing this good news and thanks to everyone who saved those non-evidence just cats from being killed at the pound.  Yay irresponsible public.

14 thoughts on “Mailbag

  1. I have heard about this – who in cat rescue hasn’t? – but to hear it described in such detail is nauseating. My understanding is that some of our cats and kittens from Hillsborough County Animal Services also ended up with this monster and her boyfriend. My God, has nobody in animal rescue ever heard of home inspections?! Apparently not! I hope there is justice for these innocent cats and kittens but it won’t be nearly enough.

  2. I followed this as closely as I could from my perch, “hiding behind my computer” (as I and others were described). Even though I was not there physically, I too saw many cats going to J. W. and thought as others did they were being rescued, not hoarded, neglected, abused, starved. The community rallied, against what the powers-that-be at Anderson PAWS thought impossible odds, and found a building, volunteers (WHAT?!), and transporters, donations, and what they had to have to get those cats out of the pound and into safety. Tami, thank you for writing this and sending it to Shirley.

  3. As is often the case, the most tragic situations bring out the best in some people. Blessings to those who spent their July 4 holiday weekend making sure the surviving cats weren’t killed. Thanks for sharing this, Tami.

  4. It’s not much, but I ordered some food, food trays, litter and a comfy bed from their Amazon wishlist. Wish I could do more. As someone who has been involved in hoarding and abuse rescues with American Humane, I know the supplies and donations are what keep these folks going. Hats off to all involved!

  5. Wow! what an amazing story! Kudos to all who worked to save the cats, and shame on all who failed to do their due diligence and allowed this to happen, and/or wanted to kill these animals who had already suffered so much.

  6. As always, Thank you ,Shirley for spreading the word.
    To those wondering about home inspections , some transporters HAD been inside this.home. As recently as May 17, there were no problems noted.
    As for “due diligence” , even the s/n clinic where she volunteered ( Anderson County Humane Society) hadn’t a clue. Do those of us that know her feel guilt ? Absolutely. All we can do now , is attempt to pick up the pieces, and do what we can to help those that have survived.
    As an update– it is now reported , AC is reporting ” no other cats” are at the farm. One witness has reported seeing paper covered windows on the home belonging to the boyfriend’s daughter.
    We will be looking to see if our “temp “shelter can become a more permanent facility. And looking to save more lives.
    The FaceBook page is Anderson Feline Survivors…

  7. Wow, just when I have given up on humanity as an evolutionary dead end some wonderful folks come along and totally mellow my harsh! This is a great good deed, thanks to all who did so much to save these cats.

  8. Can’t finish the article. One sick b**ch to rot in hell. Sick, Sick, Sick. In human pathology, the diagnosis is “Münchausen Syndrome By Proxy”. In her case, I think it’s also just plain Sick and Evil and Narcissistic.
    Put her in a carrier. Put carrier in a hot room. Leave. Voila! Die, evil b**ch. The hard way. Slow and suffering. The last thing you feel after days and days and days of suffering is a pounding dehydration headache so painful you can’t think of another way to hurt kitties. Bye bye.
    Come to think of it, in this sick sick world of sickos, it stands to reason that some sicko would use animals for self-aggrandizement.
    Why is it , though, that kitty cats always seem to be the victims of these SOBs?

  9. As one of the volunteers at this shelter, I pray it becomes a permanent facility. The people are wonderful and so dedicated. Hats off to you all! Thank you for letting me be a part of it all. I also “knew” JW. 6 cats of mine, when I became homeless 4 years ago, were also her victims. 3 have been located alive l. Two of them are at the shelter and one in a foster home. I am shocked that they survived for as long as they did. I was also promised they had been adopted only to find they had indeed not been. I believe the other 3 will never be found. R.I.P. little ones.We desperately need more volunteers at the shelter though. The few we have just cannot do it all, all of the time. Please help if you can.

  10. One other item of note..I’ve been contacted by a member of the board of Anderson County Humane Society. She states JW never received an award. I suppose the picture of the certificate , on which several folks offered congratulatory comments (me included), was another in her web of untruths.
    Adoptions of those ready for homes will begin this weekend.

  11. I am the very proud mom of Ash Truesdale, and have followed the details of this story, she kept me up to date on the horrible discovery as it unfolded, of what her “friend” JW had done. Its still unthinkable to me. How can someone be so detached from torturing beautiful innocent kitties, watching them suffer, totally uncaring. JW is a liar and deceiver of the dangerous kind, a sociopath pretender of that humanitarian organization, she is of an evil world. Ashley’s dedication to this situation shows me again, as she has been an animal rescuer her whole life, that there is hope for these kitties, and I know she and the other volunteers are working day and night along with their own jobs and families, very exhausting work, but these volunteers are DRIVEN to do what ever it takes to provide the needs of these weak and worn kitties, and they are doing a fantastic job. I could not be prouder of Ash! Love you my dear!!!

  12. Janet you must truly be so proud and rightly so of your daughter. Kudos to you for raising such a compassionate responsible young woman. I lost a kitten at the HoH & Ash was very responsive & caring in my desperate although futile search for answers in the beginning of this tragedy. I’m primarily a ” dog rescuer” but love all animals & I’ve been so impressed how this group of people came together so quickly to save these precious kitties. Out of all this tragedy I have been blessed to meet online & in person some of the most wonderful people- the people involved in cat rescue !!!

  13. Louella , The hope is that the building can become a permanent shelter. The rescue group has been in contact with the building owner to see what can be arranged. As for the donated supplies , if the building cannot be secured , there has been discussion on storing the supplies and loaning them out to ANY shelter/rescue in the area that may need them when another similar situation arises. Whatever the outcome , AFS will allow those involved ( whether by donating time or resources) to have a voice.

Leave a Reply