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Animal rescue operators are charged

By jim Published: July 20, 2009

By Kathy Antoniotti
Beacon Journal staff writer

Founder, mother face 15 counts of cruelty; dogs, cats receiving emergency care --

The founder of a local animal rescue group and her mother were charged with 15 counts of animal cruelty Friday.

Founder Heather E. Nagel and Patricia A. Mihaly could face up to 90 days in jail and fines of up to $750 on each count against them.

Heaven Can Wait, the nonprofit rescue operation the women ran on Vesper Street in North Akron, was shut down, the building was condemned and 108 animals were removed from the house and relocated to the Humane Society of Greater Akron and an assisting rescue agency Tuesday.

The charges, misdemeanors, were filed Friday in Akron Municipal Court, said assistant city prosecutor Craig Hanus.

''The primary reason would be neglect. But some of the animals were so bad they needed extra care,'' Hanus said.

Attempts to contact Nagel and Mihaly through Akron attorney Warner Mendenhall, who said Tuesday he represented Nagel, were not successful Friday. Also, an
e-mail sent to Mihaly seeking comment at the Heaven Can Wait Web site was not answered.

Moving the 70 cats and 38 dogs to the humane society Tuesday was overwhelming, said Executive Director Karen Conklin.

''The sheer magnitude of animals exceeded our capabilities to transport all the animals to the veterinary clinics we regularly work with. We called a vet and begged her to come to just get a look at the animals,'' Conklin said Friday.

''Once they were triaged by the vet on site, some of the animals in need of immediate veterinary care were transported to other vets.''

The rescue operation cost the shelter a minimum of $65 per animal, Conklin said.

The animals, which arrived without medical records to indicate previous treatment, received routine vaccinations and treatment for such conditions as fleas, worms and feline leukemia at a cost of $25 per animal.

''It's a tremendous strain on our resources in an already strapped economy,'' Conklin said.

Costs will continue to grow until Heaven Can Wait recovers the animals or relinquishes ownership to the humane society for adoption.

''We are talking $2,000 a day, and those costs do not include extraordinary medical care,'' Conklin said of the rescued animals.

Health department officers condemned the building Tuesday, citing unsanitary conditions and other structural defects before calling for the removal of the animals.

Nagel and Mihaly will be arraigned in court at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Hanus said.

The disposition of the animals hinges on the court proceedings, Conklin said.

''This is an unfortunate situation where their heartfelt attempt to help the animals got away from them,'' Conklin said.

The humane society is accepting donations to care for the animals while they remain at the shelter.

To donate, go to or send by mail to the Humane Society of Greater Akron, 4904 Quick Road, Peninsula, OH 44264.

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