Edgartown woman pleads guilty in cat case

The shed where the 65 cats were being kept. — Courtesy Animal Rescue League

At Edgartown District Court on Thursday, two years after dozens of cats and kittens were removed from an Edgartown residence, Jennifer Winsper, 50, pled guilty to one charge of animal cruelty.

In July 2020, 65 cats and kittens were removed from a large shed on Winsper’s property by Animal Rescue, following the execution of a search warrant by Animal Rescue, Edgartown Police and Animal Control, and Massachusetts Department of Agriculture Resources (MDAR) personnel. The search warrant was granted following a handful of allegations that sick cats were being sold from the location.

Animal Rescue League of Boston, through Edgartown District Court, subsequently charged Winsper with of animal cruelty, alleging that the animals were kept in a cramped shed on Winsper’s property on Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road, under “deplorable” conditions. 

All cats were later transferred to Animal Rescue for veterinary care facilities, and were said to have needed “weeks of treatment,” according to a 2020 press release from Animal Rescue.

On Thursday, Assistant District Attorney Matt Palazzolo relayed to the court excerpts from a 2020 report made by Animal Rescue League. He said upon a visit to Winsper’s “cattery” on June 3, 2020, Animal Rescue employees found dozens of cats, which had been provided only raw food, and were living in a structure with dry water bowls, poor air quality, and unclean litter boxes. He said several of the animals had “obvious signs of ringworm,” and were then transferred to shelters by Animal Rescue League in Boston for safety reasons.

Winsper, who was later charged with numerous counts of animal cruelty, agreed to the facts presented by the prosecution, and waived her right to a jury trial.

Winsper’s attorney said Winsper “understands that when she was running this cattery, there were some issues with the sanitation [and] she’s taking responsibility now.” 

Palazzolo moved to dismiss all but one charge, leaving Winsper pleading guilty to one count of cruelty by a custodian to animals, with the condition that she not work with or own animals. The plea comes with one year of probation. 

Calls to the Animal Rescue League of Boston for comment and follow-up on the animals were not immediately returned.


  1. Please CC the article clearly states that she not work with or own animals.
    Our laws, enforcement(s), and non-punishment(s) are discraceful and time has shown it is only getting worst.
    Maybe in their spare time the 5 Corners group can bring attention to this important issue?

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