RACINE — A Caledonia man charged in April for the death and neglect of 14 cats was sentenced to 90 days in jail and probation on Tuesday.
Robert K. Esser, 58, of the 5500 block of Six Mile Road, was charged with nine felony counts of mistreatment of animals and five counts of misdemeanor intentionally mistreating animals.
As part of a plea agreement, Esser pleaded guilty to one count of felony mistreatment of animals and the five counts of misdemeanor intentionally mistreating animals. As a result, the rest of the charges were read into the court record.
The felony charges Esser faced carried a maximum sentence of up to three years and six months in prison, and/or up to $10,000 in fines.
During Tuesday’s sentencing, Esser was sentenced to two years’ probation for the felony charges. For each of the misdemeanor charges, Esser was sentenced to 90 days in jail. He is required to report to the jail on Dec. 29 to serve his 90 days but may also serve the time in Milwaukee County.
As a condition of probation, Esser is prohibited from having domesticated animals, online records show.
Dead cats discovered
According to the criminal complaint, on April 18, a Caledonia Police Department officer was dispatched to Esser’s address for an animal neglect case. The officer found two medium-sized dog crates with 14 cats inside that were emaciated and covered in feces.
In one crate, two dead cats were found at the bottom of the crate. There were also eight live cats. The dead cats in the cage were so covered in feces and urine, the officer said, it was difficult to discern where they were inside the crate.
Several metallic bowls were in the crate that the officer assumed had food and water, but all were empty besides having feces and urine in them.
In the second crate, four live cats and one dead one were found. No food or water was found in that crate either.
All 14 cats reportedly had wet fur that was covered in a brown, mud-like substance the officer believed to be a mixture of feces, food and urine.
The officer contacted the Wisconsin Humane Society Racine Campus for assistance. Before the Humane Society officers arrived, nine more cats had died. Another cat died on the way to the Humane Society, and the third was euthanized due to its poor condition, police reported.