ASPCA Expert Testimony Helps Convict Gothic Kitty Creator

Monday, February 8, 2010 - 1:30pm

On February 3, the trial of “gothic kitty” creator, Holly Crawford of Luzerne County, PA, came to a close. Crawford was charged with using a 14-gauge needle to pierce the ears, necks and tails of three kittens and then attempting to sell the bejeweled felines over the Internet. The 35-year-old was found guilty of one misdemeanor count and one summary count of animal cruelty.

Crawford, who owns a dog grooming business, was charged after a tip led humane investigators and the state police to her home on December 17, 2008. Investigators found and seized three kittens wearing heavy ear, neck and tail piercing jewelry. At least one of the kittens had a thick elastic band wrapped around its tail to prevent blood flow, as a means of docking it.

Crawford pleaded not guilty to the charges, saying she used sterile needles and surgical soap when piercing the kittens. Her defense attorney further argued that parents often have the ears of their children pierced.

Despite these arguments, a Luzerne County jury found Crawford guilty. Helping to seal the conviction was expert testimony from the ASPCA’s leading forensics veterinarian, Dr. Melinda Merck, who testified that the kittens had been maimed and disfigured, had their hearing altered, and could have died.

The cats are now recovering in the custody of a local SPCA—the cost of their rehabilitation already exceeding $1,000.

Crawford’s sentencing hearing is set for March 31. She faces up to five years in prison.

If you know of an animal who is being hurt, please report it. To report animal cruelty in New York City, call the ASPCA's tip line at (877) THE-ASPCA. Visit our Report Cruelty FAQ to learn how to report cruelty elsewhere.