Judge John DeSanto told Edward "Todd" Stoehr that the court wasn't going to adopt the recommendation of an Arrowhead Regional Corrections probation officer that Stoehr no longer be involved in pet rescue.
DeSanto said Tuesday it was obvious that Stoehr is "a loving, compassionate individual" who simply took on more than he could handle when he hoarded more than 100 cats at his Two Harbors home and Duluth Township property.
"I do see this as a well-intentioned effort that went awry," DeSanto told Stoehr.
The judge then accepted the plea agreement reached between Stoehr and the St. Louis County Attorney's office and sentenced the 69-year-old founder and former director of the Lake Superior Humane Society to two years of supervised probation.
Stoehr pleaded guilty last month in St. Louis County District Court to gross misdemeanor cruelty to animals as well as mistreating animals and three counts of failure to adequately care for dogs or cats, all misdemeanors.
When DeSanto asked Stoehr if he had anything to say before sentencing, Stoehr said: "I feel so ashamed and embarrassed. ... I am so very sorry this situation happened the way it did."
DeSanto sentenced Stoehr to 180 days incarceration on the gross misdemeanor conviction and 90 days on each of the misdemeanors to be served at the same time, but stayed execution of the sentence for two years probation. The court also fined him $1,500, but stayed all but $250 of the fine and court costs.
As part of the plea agreement, Stoehr must undergo a mental health evaluation and follow any recommendations of the evaluation. The restitution he must pay to the Animal Humane Society is yet to be decided. He's prohibited from owning or having direct control of a pet, other than his dog, Niijii -- a Golden/Shepherd cross -- for six months. The dog was evaluated by a veterinarian and found to be in good health.
Stoehr told an investigator that the departure of various helpers of his over the years contributed to the dilapidation of operations of the Lake Superior Humane Society.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Kristen Swanson. "I think the resolution that was reached serves the best interest of all parties," she said after the hearing. "Certainly, you can be an individual who cares about animals, but this is a situation where things got out of hand. I think we achieved our goal of doing what we can to insure that this doesn't happen again."
Stoehr was represented by Duluth defense attorneys David Keegan and Mikkel Long.
The criminal complaint alleged that police executing a search warrant on Stoehr's Duluth Township property last March found 20 cats in a pole building with no lights on and no windows, ventilation or fresh food or water. Portable kennels were in poor condition and litter boxes were overflowing.
An officer on the scene, Duluth Township Police Chief Shawn Padden, said that in his 23 years of police work, including time breaking down meth labs, the smell was "the worst I've ever been in."
Outside the courtroom Tuesday, Stoehr said he suffers from anosmia, an inability to perceive odors.
A veterinarian determined that the cats' basic needs were not being met and could have caused premature death. Two of the cats had to be euthanized.
Officers also found 39 dead cats in bags and containers outside the pole building. The animal recovery team then went to Stoehr's Two Harbors residence and removed 34 live cats. A veterinarian conducted necropsies on three cats and found that two of them died from emaciation from not eating for an extended period of time. Other live cats were found that suffered from various diseases allegedly because of improper treatment.