60 Cats Rescued From A Filthy, Cramped, Toxic Storage Unit

The West Memphis Animal Shelter recently acquired new guests as the staff rescued 60 cats from a filthy storage closet. The shelter revealed that the storage unit measured 10 feet by 20 feet. They, however, didn’t provide further details regarding the location of the unit. Kerry Facello, who is the shelter’s director, stated that the ammonia levels in that crammed up space was very high and toxic. She explained the origin of the situation and dated it back to a year ago when the cats’ owner died. The owner’s relatives were not ready for all the cats that the woman had left behind. Facello noted that the situation became overwhelming for the new owners, and they ended up placing the cats inside the unit in the woman’s house. She nonetheless pointed out that the cats were fed properly and were given water.

However, the cats weren’t accorded the necessary medical attention and lacked space. According to WTDN, some of the cats had matted fur, while many of them had eye and upper respiratory infections. Facello estimated that it was highly unlikely that the owner had started with 60 cats. She said that since the cats hadn’t been spayed or neutered, the result was the large number of cats that they had on their hands. Facello, however, stated that the nature of the case didn’t qualify it to be classified as animal cruelty. As a result, the owners weren’t going to be charged. Her statement stated that animal cruelty is ordinarily defined by more of a severe act of cruelty purposefully extended to an animal. In this case, she added, it was more of a situation that just got out of hand.

She noted that the owners of the cats had tried reaching out to various shelters in the area but hadn’t received any response or help whatsoever. Facello said that a rescue group in Memphis had agreed to take half of the cats off her hands while the rest would go to her shelter. The West Memphis Animal Shelter called on the public for help. They stated that they need help with donations such as supplies including but not limited to cat litters, money for vet visits, canned cat food, and Purina cat chow in the blue bag. The rescue dubbed the exercise ‘Operation Paradise. The shelter explained that they named the task that way since the cats were on their way to knowing what paradise means. In case of any inquiries or if you want to adopt any of the cats, the West Memphis Animal Shelter can be reached through their self-titled Facebook page or their toll-line: 870-732-7599.

Similar Situations

Eighty-five cats were rescued from a home in Pennsylvania in October 2019 after the house was deemed unfit for human occupancy. According to the New York Post, the cats were rescued by animal protective services officers from the Brandywine Valley SPCA, which has a no-kill policy. The exercise took two days to complete. Officials said that the floor of the house was covered in feces, and most of the cats were covered in fleas and had ear mites. Others had untreated wounds. An underweight dog was among the pets found in the home. The dog was found to have skin disease that had rendered her hairless. Additionally, the dog was blind and seemed to be in severe pain from a dental disease, which the officials said required full tooth extraction.

The cats in this situation, however, were well socialized. The healthiest of them all was placed up for adoption almost immediately. The rest were placed under observation by a veterinarian and were accorded the necessary medical attention that they required. The officials said that while the owners of the cats had good intentions and were genuine cat lovers, the behavior was inexcusable. They added that there was simply no reason as to why animals would be allowed to suffer that way. The officials of the SPCA called on the public to be vigilant and report such cases before they got out of hand. Charges were filed against the three occupants of the house.

Another Similar Situation

In December 2019, a woman from Mountain View Idaho was arrested after authorities rescued 58 animals from her residence. According to Fox 29, Kathleen Schweikert, as she was identified, was charged with 58 counts of animal cruelty. Additionally, she was charged with 48 counts of unlicensed dogs and operating a commercial kennel without a license. She was also cited for exceeding the limit on the number of animals set by the city regulations. The Idaho Humane Society stated that they needed to solicit the help of firefighters who had to wear oxygen masks and hazmat gears. The get-up was necessary so that they could ensure the house was well aired out enough.

The shelter noted that the ammonia levels in the house caused by the fecal matter and urine were so high that the rescue was impossible without the masks and gear. The inside of the house was found to be littered with debris, and feces and urine contaminated the entire house. A total of 55 dogs and three cats were rescued from the residence. All the animals were placed under the care of the Idaho Humane Society until the disposition was determined. At the shelter, veterinarians examined them, and they were given the necessary medical treatment.

Animal Cruelty

According to the Idaho Humane Society, animal cruelty is defined in their handbook as negligently confining an animal in hazardous, unsanitary conditions. Knowingly failing to provide sustenance, shelter, or water to an animal also counts as animal cruelty.

The statute states that any custodian who keeps animals without proper attention and care is guilty of a misdemeanor. The statute enables law enforcement officers to take custody of any animal found to be neglected and provide them with care until the disposition for the cruelty or neglect case is determined. The disposition process normally takes weeks or even months to complete.

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