ST. CHARLES • A homeless woman was charged Monday with two counts of animal abuse after police said they found 25 cats and two dogs suffering inside her locked car at Ameristar Casino.
Someone called 911 about 12:15 p.m. Sunday after spotting the animals trapped inside the woman's Chevrolet Lumina on the casino parking garage's covered fourth level.
Police found the animals jammed inside the car without water, soiled by their own feces and eating bits of food scattered on the car's floor, said St. Charles Police Lt. Mike Akers. At least eight cats had been packed into one crate. The car windows were cracked open about 1 inch with the outside temperature Sunday afternoon about 90 degrees.
Casino security told police the temperature inside the garage typically runs about 7 to 8 degrees hotter than outside. Police did not know the temperature inside the car.
The owner of the car, Lori Pellin, 39, had arrived at the casino shortly before noon and was found about 2:15 p.m. in the casino hotel's computer room.
She told detectives she was homeless after being evicted from her apartment three days before. She said she had been living in her car and had gone to the casino to gamble and use the hotel's computer to search for an apartment.
Pellin, whose last known address was in the 8400 block of Rock Haven Avenue in St. Louis County, is charged with two counts of misdemeanor animal abuse and was held Monday in lieu of $1,500 bail.
She may face more charges depending on the condition of the animals.
St. Charles Animal Control Officer Teresa Gilley said the animals did not appear malnourished. She said the dogs and cats should be available for adoption later this week.
Most of the animals received shelter Monday at animal control, while four cats were taken to the St. Charles County Division of Humane Services.
All are expected to survive, Gilley said.
The cats are various breeds and mixes, ranging in age from 4 months to 3 years old. One of the dogs is a 1-year-old white Labrador mix. The other is a 2-year-old Boston terrier mix, which had a microchip identification and was reported missing last month from St. Louis.
Police were investigating how Pellin ended up with that dog, which was being picked up by its owner Monday night.
Barb Brengle of south St. Louis said she picked up Lucy from the shelter Monday night after reading this article on STLtoday.com.
Brengle called a reporter Monday evening and said she had been searching for Lucy since early May, when the dog escaped her backyard while playing with Brengle's two boys.
Brengle said Lucy is relatively healthy, had gained 10 pounds since she disappeared and had a hookworm and a yeast infection in her ear.