Woman charged with 2 more counts of animal cruelty after decomposing cats found in efficiency

NORTHEAST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Miami-Dade prosecutors have added additional charges for a woman accused on one of the worst animal cruelty cases investigators say they have ever seen.

Cheryn Smilen now faces 20 felony counts, up from 18, of animal cruelty, Monday after Miami-Dade Police said she abandoned dozens of cats in her Northeast Miami-Dade efficiency.

Smilen ran a South Florida cat rescue, and a dozen people protested outside her court hearing Monday morning.

The cat lovers who gathered outside of the Miami-Dade courthouse said they want Smilen to be sentenced to jail.

“I’m here because we want justice for the 28 cats she killed,” said Honey Jackson, who rescues cats, “and that she should get jail time for a very long time.”

Smilen did not show up in court when prosecutors added the new charges.

7News broke the story after neighbors smelled a foul odor and found the cats decomposing inside the home in February. That’s when they called Smilen’s property manager.

Some of the cats survived, but most perished.

“She was a tenant. Paid on time. Very good tenant,” said property manager Doras Silva. “We just got a call about the smell. And when they opened it up, it was horrific.”

Smilen’s website for her rescue was accepting donations up until a few weeks ago, when it was taken down.

“She never returned any of the cats,” said Charlene Grall, who rescues cats. “She hoarded every single one she trapped.”

Some of the cats that were rescued are being nursed back to health at Miami-Dade Animal Services and by volunteer groups.

However, investigators said, many more have died.

“Even now, the smell around the area, you can still smell the smell of death,” Silva said.

Through her attorney, Smilen pleaded not guilty and has requested a jury trial.

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