June 7, 2011
9 rescued cats euthanized, others recovering
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Cortland SPCA shelter manager Sandy Snyder cares for one of the 13 remaining cats Tuesday seized from a Water Street house on Thursday.
By ANTHONY BORRELLI
Nine sick cats taken last week from a Water Street home have been euthanized, while the Cortland Community SPCA says 13 others show signs of recovery.
But up to seven more cats may be still unaccounted for, meaning more humane animal traps will have to be set and follow-up checks made this week at 17 Water St., SPCA Investigator Bill Carr said Monday.
SPCA officials and Cortland firefighters spent much of Thursday afternoon in protective suits, carrying 20 cats, many of them riddled with lice and other ailments, out of the residence.
Two more cats were rescued on Saturday and Carr expects to find others in follow-up checks.
“They were all running for the hills with us there,” Carr said. “They weren’t interacted-with like normal cats and we’re fortunate they’re not all feral, to be honest.”
Carr said it was “heartbreaking” for the SPCA when nine cats had to be euthanized when diagnosed with highly contagious feline leukemia, a virus the animals were not vaccinated against.
The SPCA estimates this animal hoarding and neglect case, which Carr labeled as one of the worst the Cortland SPCA has handled, was several months to a year in the making.
“There’s just so much feces and the air quality was so foul — and still is,” Carr recalled.
Officials said an elderly woman lived in the Water Street home with her son and had difficulty taking proper care of themselves, let alone their cats.
The identities of the elderly woman and her son have not been disclosed and officials have no plans to file animal cruelty charges against them.
“It’s our feeling these folks are unable to take care of themselves,” Carr said. “We hope they’re able to get on their feet.”
The roughly two dozen cats the man and his mother collected off the street will be cared for at the SPCA facility over the next several months and treated for various ailments, including rotted teeth. They will later be put up for adoption.
The SPCA estimates a nearly $4,000 cost to shelter the cats and nurse them back to health, which officials said is a large bill for the agency to foot alone. The SPCA said they would rely heavily on public donations to care for the cats.
Clean air, food and water over the past few days in the SPCA’s shelter has already led to notable improvements in their health, Carr said.
“Some of them are being less afraid and coming to the front of their cages,” Carr said. “I don’t think there was a lot of interaction (between the cats and owners) in that residence.”
The Cortland Police Department responded to the Water Street home for an EMS call to aid the elderly woman and told SPCA officials about the uncared for animals inside.
Cortland Code Enforcement officers also found the Water Street house unsafe, due to structural problems and interior cleanliness. The future of the site remained unclear Monday.
SPCA officials found some similarities between the Water Street case and another cat hoarding incident on Wheeler Avenue in 2006. That case, involving the cat clinic Purrfect World, led to approximately 300 cats being taken off the premises. Purrfect World was a nonprofit organization that assisted animal shelters.
The cats seized in the Purrfect World case were also found in poor health, living amid unsanitary conditions.
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