CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Two people are facing a lawsuit and temporary restraining order by the U.S. Office of the Attorney General after running a commercial cat and dog breeding facility that violates the Animal Welfare Act out of a home in North Chesterfield.
Elena Mikirticheva and Andrey Mikirtichev reportedly operated the facility at 3001 Bensley Rd. in Chesterfield and, according to court documents, were in “possession, control, or care of a total of approximately 129 cats and six dogs.”
The federal Animal Welfare Act sets minimum requirements for the care of animals regarding sanitation, handling, housing, feeding, providing water, veterinary care and other forms.
Mikirticheva and Mikirtichev held an Animal Welfare Act license provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which was initially suspended on Aug. 11 for 21 days due to the following violations, according to court records:
- failed to provide adequate veterinary care
- failed to maintain adequate acquisition and disposition records of animals
- failed to provide APHIS officials access to records
- failed to provide adequate housing facilities for animals
- failed to provide proper food storage
- failed to provide housing facilities with surfaces that are impervious to moisture
- failed to provide an adequate amount of shelter for the number of animals present
- failed to provide primary enclosures of with adequate vertical and floor space
- failed to provide adequate resting surfaces for cats
- failed to provide adequate potable water for dogs
- failed to provide adequate cleaning and sanitization
- failed to maintain adequate medical records for dogs.
After the temporary suspension, the USDA then filed an administrative complaint on Aug. 25 intended to permanently revoke the breeders’ license.
Court filings in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia said Mikirticheva and Mikirtichev have amassed over 50 citations for failing to meet the AWA’s minimum requirements.
Documents allege that one instance of the breeders’ failure to provide adequate veterinary care occurred when a male brown tabby kitten was born with a malformed chest that was compressed inward, but both facility operators did not tell the attending veterinarian about the kitten’s condition.
Instead, it is alleged that Andrey Mikirtichev attempted to splint the chest cavity himself with a toilet paper tube, which was unsuccessful. In an inspection on Aug. 9 by USDA inspectors, court filings said that the kitten showed respiratory distress, had active diarrhea, was thin and in poor condition.
Mikirticheva and Mikirtichev allegedly acknowledged the kitten’s poor condition but again did not communicate it to the attending veterinarian.
The kitten died in the evening on Aug. 9, which the attending veterinarian told to inspectors, according to court documents.
Many other cats and dogs were reportedly observed in poor health during other inspections, with cats in conditions such as: extreme dehydration, extreme thinness, with swollen and reddened gums, a malformed limb, scratch wounds and eye issues.
Court documents show a dog that was observed with a four-week-old open wound on his neck and another was found with multiple worn and fractured teeth, while another was found to be heartworm positive.
In addition to the lack of veterinary care, animals were allegedly seen in unsafe and unsanitary conditions, which placed the animals in “serious danger,” according to court filings.
On Monday, Oct. 9, the Humane Society of the United States, the Virginia Attorney General’s Office and Chesterfield County Animal Services assisted with the removal of “110 cats and kittens,” according to the humane society.
The incident is said to currently be under investigation and a spokesperson for the Office of the Attorney General confirmed the office is the special prosecutor in the case.