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Cops arrest West Hills couple on animal abuse charges

A cat was rescued from a West Hills

A cat was rescued from a West Hills home at 168 Chichester Road where it was abused, according to officials. (Sept. 1, 2010) Credit: James Carbone

The owners of a sprawling West Hills home were arraigned Thursday on an animal cruelty charge, a day after authorities said up to 150 starving and abused dogs and other animals were found in and around their 33-acre property.

Prosecutors said the animals were fighting and killing each other over the tiny amounts of food and water available to them when they were found.

Michael Gladstein, 57, a dermatologist, and his wife, Marilyn Gladstein, 57, were each arraigned on one count of aggravated animal cruelty, a felony, for failing to provide food and water for a pony found on the 33-acre estate. A Suffolk prosecutor said the pony was emaciated.

The couple pleaded not guilty before District Court Judge Richard Horowitz in Central Islip.

The Suffolk district attorney's office said it will present the matter to a grand jury Tuesday.

Urine from the dogs produced fumes, which triggered a fire alarm sending firefighters to the home at 168 Chichester Rd. in West Hills, Wednesday morning, fire officials said. Authorities found 30 to 40 dead dogs, some in the kitchen sink, some in the bathtub, officials said.

Three goats and a cat were also found on the property, authorities said. The smell from the animals' feces and urine was so overpowering that firefighters could not enter the two-story house without breathing apparatus and protective gear.

"It was sweltering and the smell was horrendous," said Huntington Manor Assistant Chief Gary Hatton.

Marilyn Gladstein, who works as a receptionist at her husband's practice, came to court Thursday wearing a T-shirt, pajama bottoms and two different colored rubber clogs. She did not address Horowitz, who ordered that she undergo a medical and mental evaluation.

Horowitz asked Michael Gladstein if he had his own attorney. He said no.

Then the judge pressed and asked if he has family who could help him hire a lawyer.

"I don't know how to get a lawyer," Michael Gladstein said. "I thought I would be able to make one call during the day and I was not allowed along the way."

The judge assigned Michael Gladstein the court-appointed attorney and asked if he needed medical attention. The West Hills dermatologist said no.

Suffolk prosecutors asked Horowitz to set bail at $50,000 cash or $400,000 bond for each defendant, a request the judge granted. Horowitz ordered the Gladsteins to return on Tuesday.

Prosecutors said they plan to ask the Gladsteins to pay $142,800 to the Suffolk SPCA, the amount needed to care for the animals for 30 days.

About 100 of the dogs are at the Huntington Animal Shelter.

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