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A Missoula woman is facing four counts of animal cruelty after several reports made to the city-county Animal Control department from her friends, social workers and property management company.

Prosecutors charged Tambi Renelynn Masom in Missoula County District Court on Nov. 25. The first charge of animal cruelty is a misdemeanor; the other three are felonies.

Masom's social worker reported to Missoula Animal Control on Nov. 22 she wasn't feeding the animals because she couldn't afford it, and she refused to give them to a shelter because she thought that would be irresponsible, according to charging documents.

An Animal Control officer tried knocking at the door, but no one answered. As the officer watched the home, a woman came to the house and took the kittens, according to court documents. The officer then made contact with the woman and took custody of the kittens, court records state.

This month's incident follows Animal Control's contact with Masom earlier this year, when a different social worker reported to the agency in April that a mother cat and a number of kittens were not properly cared for. One kitten, the social worker found, had a broken spine, according to court documents. An acquaintance of Masom's had also pulled a kitten out of Masom's toilet and brought it to Animal Control. Both kittens brought to Animal Control in May had to be euthanized, according to charging documents.

On May 3, a friend was able to convince Masom to give up the remaining cats, according to charging documents. The friend brought them to Animal Control, which weighed the 4- to 6-week-old kittens at a half pound.

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That same month, staff at Grizzly Property Management had contacted Animal Control to report a dog with no food or water and unable to stand in its kennel. The area around the kennel was covered in urine and feces, according to charging documents. The property management company allowed Missoula Animal Control into the apartment to take the dog in May. 

In an interview with a Missoula police detective in August, Masom said the kitten's spine had been broken by its mother jumping into the pen where she kept the kittens. After that incident, Masom told the detective she began keeping the kittens in the bathroom, away from the mother. She left the house briefly and returned to find one kitten in the toilet. She told the detective she "could not bring herself to reach into the toilet and grab the kitten out," so she called a friend to do so. 

When asked about the dog, Masom told the detective she was not allowed to have pets at her apartment, so she registered the animal as a service animal to circumvent the pet refusal. 

Masom has not appeared in Missoula District Court on the charges. If convicted on the misdemeanor charge, she could face a maximum $1,000 fine and a year in the county jail. If convicted on the felony charges, Masom could face a $2,500 fine and two-year sentence with the Montana Department of Corrections for each charge.

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