A Norwalk businessman faces one count of cruelty to animals in connection with stuffing newborn kittens into a trash can.
Frank W. Mount, 64, of 6 Cedar St., is charged with a second-degree misdemeanor stemming from a suspected offense in Huron. If convicted, he faces up to 90 days in the Erie County Jail and a maximum fine of $750.
Mount is the owner of Mount Insurance Agencies Inc., which has offices in Norwalk and Huron.
On May 20, Huron Police Officer James Bowens responded to 1101 Mudbrook Road -- Mount's Huron office -- just after noon, based on a complaint by FSI Waste employee Steve Lopez.
The trash collector was on his trash pick-up route when he refused to haul away the kittens, which were lying on dead shrubbery on the ground. Lopez said Mount confronted him when didn't pick up the kittens and shrubbery because Lopez said they weren't considered trash, police said.
"The report indicates the umbilical cords were still attached," Chief Bob Lippert told the Reflector.
Erie County Dog Warden Barb Knapp responded to the scene as a courtesy call to Huron since she was down the road at a veterinarian's office.
"Some of them were clearly dead. They were fairly newborn," said Knapp, who arrived before two police officers. "Umbilical cords were tied to the branches."
Knapp estimated there were seven kittens and each one was 3 or 4 inches long.
"When I got there, you could hear them," she said about hearing the kittens in the trash can with the shrubbery. "Some eyes were not even open on them. They were half-gone by then. ... You could smell rotting flesh."
When Lopez told Mount another truck handles yard waste, the suspect reportedly picked up the kittens and shrubbery and stuffed them into the trash can designated for yard waste, police said.
Officers determined Mount was responsible for taking care of his mother's cats, Lippert said.
The police report indicates an officer only saw shrubbery sticking out of the trash can when he first approached it, but as he got closer, he "could hear several of the kittens crying in the bottom of the can."
"The shrubbery was lifted out of the can and we located several kittens that had just been born. The umbilical cords were still attached to the kittens and were wrapped up in the shrubbery," Bowens wrote in his report.
A witness at the scene identified Mount as the man who reportedly took out the trash. Knapp said she spoke to the same woman.
Police met with Huron Law Director Laura Alkire about the incident. Lippert said the prosecutor decided a charge of animal cruelty should be filed against Mount.
A veterinarian determined the kittens had to be euthanized, said Knapp, who wasn't able to track down the kittens' mother. She said she went to nearby yard with one of the kittens, where she found three adult cats lying down, but they didn't respond to the kitten's presence.
"I took a couple steps and they took off," Knapp said.
Mount, who couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday, made his first court appearance June 4 in Huron Municipal Court. A clerk said the defendant requested a continuance so he could hire an attorney and defense attorney Reese Wineman later entered a "not guilty" plea. Mount's next hearing is July 9.