Over 30 local citizens showed up at the Alameda County Courthouse this morning in bright white shirts to show their support for a stiff sentence for LaPreda Thomas who recently pled guilty to two felony counts of animal abuse. LaPreda Thomas has been in Santa Rita jail since October 2009 when she was arrested and then charged with the abuse of 15 cats. Oakland Police, including members from the Crime Investigations Division and Oakland Animal Services, performed two probation searches of LaPreda Thomas’ home in 2009 to investigate concerns that she was abusing animals. Sick and injured cats were rescued from her home – some of the cats with breaks in every limb. These cats were treated and fostered with the help of both Friends of Oakland Animal Services and Island Cat Resources.
Judge Jacobson commented in the courtroom this morning that he had received many letters from citizens about the case and it was obviously one that people were taking very seriously. He stated that Thomas obviously suffered from severe mental illness. He sentenced her to one year in county jail which she has nearly completed. This will be followed by one full year in a dual diagnosis residential program for treatment of mental illness and substance abuse issues. Thomas is scheduled to be transferred directly from jail to the residential facility on June 14, 2010. She was also sentenced to 5 years of felony probation. She is not to own or possess any animals during her probation. If she violates her probations, she will go to jail for three years and will not get any credit for the time she spent in the program.