A Mason City woman was arrested Wednesday for animal neglect after a search warrant of her home yielded several dead cats, police said.

Luella Ann Duenow-Scholl, 63, was charged with two counts of misdemeanor animal neglect - death or injury.

On March 13, Mason City Police executed a search warrant at 831 Fifth St. SW to check the welfare of several cats, police said in a release.   

“The City of Mason City had received several complaints about cats that were not being properly cared for inside the residence,” the release said.

During the search, two dead cats and three live cats were removed from the home.

The two live cats were euthanized due to malnutrition, the criminal complaint said.

“Duenow-Scholl did not give adequate water and food to her cats inside her residence,” court documents said.

The third cat, according to Capt. Mike McKelvey, was nursed and treated by the vet.

“That cat is still living as far as I know,” McKelvey said. “The other two were so bad off.”

McKelvey said the living cat was taken to the Mason City Animal Shelter.

The Mason City Police Department was assisted by the Mason City Neighborhood Services Department.  

Duenow-Scholl was arrested Wednesday and booked into Cerro Gordo County Jail.  

She was later released with a promise to appear in court.

The animal neglect charges are punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1875 for each count.  

Duenow-Scholl is scheduled to appear May 1 in Cerro Gordo County District Court. 

Iowa’s protection laws ranked 48th in the country in 2018, according to analysis of state laws by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which advocates for strong animal protection laws and assists attorneys who prosecute animal abusers.

Iowa is low in the rankings in part because the state has no felony for first offense of animal cruelty and no clear legal definition of basic standards of care for animals.

Multiple proposals have been introduced at the Iowa Capitol, and some are working their way through the legislative process.

In the past, lawmakers have been hesitant to strengthen the state’s animal cruelty laws primarily due to concerns raised by farmers and organizations that represent them.

Lawmakers say they have addressed those concerns in the current proposals by writing the legislation to specifically address pets, or their legal term, companion animals. And the proposals would amend a portion of state law that is different from the one that deals with livestock.

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103 odd North Iowa crime stories from 2018: Pasta salad evidence, cigarette robbery, stolen pigs (with mugshots)

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Contact Courtney at 641-421-0534 or on Twitter @CourtneyFiorini.



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