EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Humane Society employee charged with leaving three cats in a work vehicle for three weeks has been found not guilty.

The cats — Lucky, Chance and Magic — were left in a transport van for 22 days in early 2018 after they arrived in Edmonton from Grande Prairie. They were later found dehydrated and with urine burns on their feet.

Mariah Berini was charged with causing or permitting animals to be in distress and failing to provide adequate food or water to animals under the Animal Protection Act.

In January 2020 she argued in court that she was not the only one to blame.

Court heard Berini and an employee opened the side door of the van and looked inside but did not go in.

Another employee sent a text to Berini later that night to ask about the three missing cats.

"Mrs. Berini did nothing with that information and, in fact, ignored it," said Crown prosecutor Matt Dalidowicz.

Berini's lawyers argued the whole team was responsible for leaving the cats in the van.

EHS transports now require pre- and post-trip vehicle inspection, animal tracking forms must be completed and submitted, trips over 100 kilometres require two drivers and trips over seven hours round-trip require drivers to stay overnight.