Animal cruelty charges filed against founder of South Side feral cat not-for-profit

The owner of a South Side not-for-profit that sought to care for the city’s feral cat population now faces charges of animal cruelty after authorities last month allegedly found five dead felines in the basement of her squalid Auburn Gresham home.

Ashley Burrell, 37, was charged May 8 with five counts of aggravated cruelty to animals following an investigation by the city’s Department of Animal Care and Control, according to Cook County court records.

Records from the Illinois secretary of state show Burrell owns “Nikki’s Ferals,” a not-for-profit organization founded in 2022 that focuses on “(trap, neuter, release) for feral and community cats” while also providing food, shelter and “help (to) injured feral and community cats.”

Court records show a supervisor with Animal Care and Control went to Burrell’s Auburn Gresham home in early April to follow up on an investigation into Burrell.

Once inside, officials “observed several cats that had no access to clean water, they were covered in feces and urine, had discharge coming from out of their eyes, emaciated, underweight, and appeared to have upper respiratory problems,” according to Burrell’s arrest report.

Five dead cats were eventually found in the basement, police records allege, and Burrell told investigators that 26 cats and three dogs lived in the home.

Burrell, who could not be reached for comment, is scheduled to make her next court appearance Tuesday.