Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cat hoarders strain King's Harvest pet program

By Kurt Allemeier

Homeless advocates with King's Harvest went to retrieve a couple of cats from a homeless couple in Davenport and found more than they bargained for.

The "couple of cats" became a dozen of poorly cared-for felines, said Terri Gleize, King's Harvest director. The cats were in a cage coated with feces covered with a urine-covered frozen blanket. The rescue has strained the resources of the King's Harvest pet program that is always in need of volunteers and donations.

Pat Townsley, the homeless woman who contacted Gleize's organization for help, has a history of animal hoarding that dates back to June 2000, when 25 cats were taken from a van where she was living, according to a ruling earlier this month by Davenport's animal hearing commission.

The cats rescued earlier this month are getting special care but need to be adopted.

"We got them all fixed and vaccinated, and they need homes," Gleize said. "They are more than we can handle."

Since King's Harvest started its pet program, it has distributed 4,500 pounds of dog and cat food, and spayed or neutered 60 animals. Volunteers are needed to help with boarded animals. Nestlé Purina has been a generous partner, Gleize said.

Townsley and Rudolfo Punteney have been ordered not to own or possess any animals in the city of Davenport, and any cats found in their possession will be seized, according to the Feb. 19 ruling.

Davenport animal control was contacted Feb. 2 about cats in a boarded-up home in the 100 block of South Sturdevant Street. The animal control officer found a pet carrier with four feces-covered cats in it that didn't have any food or water.

Townsley first had contact with animal control in 2000 when the 25 cats were taken from the van. In August 2003, the woman's landlord reported she had 15 cats in her residence on Tremont Avenue. Two years later, in March 2005, animal control was contacted about neglect of two dogs and several cats cared for by Townsley at a residence on Christie Street.