Monday, September 21, 2009

Dozens of Dead Cats Found in Woman's Freezer

By: Dave Nethers

MANSFIELD, Ohio -- At the Richland County Animal Shelter workers carefully watch cats placed in isolation.

"Most of them have the upper respiratory infection," Shelter Supervisor Melissa Houghton says.

And Some of them like these up here, have the thinning hair from the fleas," she said attracting our attention to two cats in another cage.

The animals are among the survivors taken from a Mansfield home on Wednesday.

Responding to a complaint, humane society officials say they found 32 living cats inside the two story home in which the woman who had them had moved only eight weeks earlier.

What was most shocking were the bodies of 35 more cats, 30 of them kittens, found in an upright freezer.

"She actually had them in individual ziplock bags like the kittens in freezer bags and the adults in large plastic bags she said she was saving them to bury them."

At the house a woman who answered the door refused to talk about the incident.

Houghton says the woman living there had moved from Michigan and rented the home sight unseen.

She told investigators that she had run an animal rescue and was trying to take care of the cats but things got out of hand.

Though she had lived in the rented home for only eight weeks, Houghton says the condition inside was worse than some she had seen where cats had the run of the house for over a year.

"It was covered in cat feces and urine and you could see where they had sprayed along walls and window wells, the amount of damage they did in eight weeks it was amazing"

Houghton says the woman actually thanked them as they were taking the cats and two dogs out of the home because she realized things had gotten out of hand and she was actually harming not helping the animals.

Neighbors were shocked to see all of the animals come out of the house.

"I knew she had two dogs, but i had no idea she had that many cats, it was, at least like i say...impressive" said James Lawhorn who watched as the cages were being carried out of the house

Another neighbor told fox eight she hopes the woman gets some help.

"We don't know if the cats were born alive or whatever. Its just like so many to be put in the freezer," said Tammy King.

Humane officials say there are mental conditions that might have contributed to the "hoarding" of the dead animals, which Houghton says could very well have died of natural causes because of the conditions and disease that some of the other cats have.

Of the 32 that were taken from the home alive, 26 have already had to be euthanized because of serious health issues, or because they were considered too wild to adopt out.

Houghton says because the woman agreed to get counseling they would not be pressing charges,.."