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Man arraigned for animal neglect, hoarding

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — A Bellaire area man was arraigned Tuesday after numerous animals were removed from what the humane organization Belmont County Hoof & Paw described as “deplorable conditions.”

In October, the group took 11 dogs, more than 20 cats, a donkey and chickens from the property. Some of the animals apparently had been there for 10 years.

Raymond Moncer, 63, of 657416 Indian Run Road, Bellaire appeared before Belmont County Eastern Division Court Judge David Trouten on Tuesday. Trouten reviewed the charges, noting Moncer faces first-degree misdemeanor attempted cruelty to animals, which carries a sentence of up to 180 days in jail; and four counts of second-degree misdemeanor attempted cruelty to animals, each of which carries a potential sentence of 90 days in jail.

“If you’re convicted of more than one of those, they can be added together … ,” Trouten said. “So you’re facing quite a bit of potential time here.”

“Sir, I’m innocent,” Moncer responded. “The cats were not mine.”

Trouten set a pretrial hearing for 9 a.m. Dec. 15.

The public defender’s office was assigned to the case. A recognizance bond was granted on the condition that neither Moncer nor anyone in his household would have any animals. Moncer said he would not.

“I will never own an animal again,” Moncer said.

Julie Larish, humane officer with Hoof & Paw, said the animals are being cared for. She had said Moncer had fed the animals but had not provided medical care when needed.

“He surrendered all the animals, so we have been able to get a lot of the animals into new homes and to fantastic homes,” she said. “We still do have the 17-year-old dog at home, and he’s probably going to stay with me forever. We have a couple of the other dogs, they just got fixed and pending adoption. Some of the dogs have already been adopted out.”

She added they have not yet found all of the cats from the property.

“We rounded up 25 of the cats, but he had prior knowledge of us coming so therefore he let all the cats out of the camper, so there are some cats running loose,” she said.

“We do have several people who will testify that were on scene, that were with us. I think the charges are appropriate for what has happened,” Larish said. “I don’t think Mr. Moncer’s a bad person. I think he had a good heart, but it just got out of hand for him. This is a common thing in animal hoarding situations.”

“We look at the facts based on the investigation and apply what we believe to be the applicable law,” Prosecutor Kevin Flanagan said. “In this particular case, the charges that were filed were a series of serious misdemeanor offenses. … With a felony, you have to have an intentional act, and obviously we’ve seen these cases a number of different times where we have an individual that ultimately has too many animals for which that individual can care for. … That falls into the neglect category.”

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