EDMONTON -- Lawyers for an Edmonton Humane Society employee accused of leaving three cats in distress in her van for more than three weeks argued in court Thursday that she's not the only one to blame.

The cats, named Lucky, Chance and Magic, were left in a transport van for 22 days in spring 2018 and were later found dehydrated and with urine burns on their feet.

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

Court heard Thursday that the cats were transported from Grande Prairie to Edmonton and after animals were offloaded, Berini parked her van.

She and a coworker opened the side door of the van and looked inside but didn't go in.

Later that evening, another employee sent a text to Berini asking about about three missing cats.

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

Crown argued that Berini was in charge of the animals and should face consequences for leaving them, but her lawyers countered by saying there was a whole team of people responsible.

"Crown's case is a very unfortunate accident where many people were involved," said defense lawyer Robert O'Neill.

He also told the court that the story has a happy ending because the cats survived. The animals did not suffer any major injuries and have since been adopted out.

EHS made several internal changes following a third-party investigation into the cats being left in the van.

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.

No decision was reached Thursday. A decision date will be set Thursday, Feb. 6.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Amanda Anderson.