Published Friday, November 11, 2011
By John Winters
The Newnan Times-Herald
The woman discovered to have kept more than 200 cats in her home has been arrested and booked into the Coweta County Jail.
Suzanne Vardakis, 50, was charged with five counts of animal cruelty, according to jail records. She was arrested Wednesday and was still in the jail as of late Thursday.
Vardakis disappeared from her east Coweta home on Oct. 6, the day authorities were notified about the cats. She took about a dozen cats with her that day and went to a veterinary clinic. All of those animals were euthanized.
Authorities were unable to find her and eventually the county's Animal Control Department issued a warrant for her arrest.
It was not immediately clear where she was arrested.
Vardakis currently is facing state charges. Her husband, Philip, and son, Houston, were charged Oct. 6 at the residence located at 15 Candlewood Court off Highway 154. They each face 75 counts of violating three different county ordinances relating to animals.
"To have a warrant issued, the charges had to be state-level misdemeanor charges," said Patricia Palmer, public affairs director for Coweta County. "A warrant was issued for her arrest with a more serious charge of misdemeanor animal cruelty because that was the best way to find her."
Because Philip Vardakis and his son were cited at the residence, there was no need to issue warrants for them. County authorities said Philip Vardakis is the one who notified them about the cats.
"As far as Animal Control is concerned, the biggest issue is that she is cited and is aware she has cases pending," Palmer said.
In all, 236 cats were removed from the residence. The majority of those were too sick or feral to be adopted and were later euthanized. Thirty-six cats removed were already dead.
Photos taken of the inside of the residence showed cats literally everywhere, and extremely squalid conditions.
The county had to utilize a large powered trailer to house the animals as the animal shelter was already at capacity. It also has spent about $4,500, primarily on cat-related items and veterinarian bills.
The county also has devoted about 300 man-hours to the case. Those man-hours do not include sheriff's deputies and firefighters, several of whom were on hand the first couple of days.
Late last month the county put what few cats remained -- about 60 -- up for adoption.