A woman who moved from Oakland County to her father’s house in south central Michigan brought her cats with her – lots of cats, according to authorities.
And once she was settled in, the number of cats multiplied from several dozen to well more than 100, according to St. Joseph County Animal Control officials
More than 140 cats were recovered earlier last week from the home in Park Township. Now they say the house may be unfit for humans because of the stench.
Doug Kuhlman, zoning administrator for Park Township, and officials from St. Joseph County Animal Control are scrambling to find medical assistance and temporary placement for the animals. Two had to be euthanized immediately.
“One clearly had a neurological disorder and one was a newborn kitten that wasn’t going to make it through the night,” Kuhlman said. “The humane thing to do in both cases was just put them out of their misery.”
Kuhlman said authorities got involved following a tip township officials received Monday. Kuhlman declined to state the specific area where the situation took place, but said it is in a neighborhood where adjacent homeowners lived close enough to notice stench coming from the residence.
On Tuesday, after securing a court-issued search warrant, Kuhlman entered the home. He was joined by representatives from the county’s animal control, St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department, Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency and the Three Rivers code-compliance officer.
Kuhlman said he suspected a problem well before they even entered. They were wearing N95 (medical-grade) masks and had smeared topical ointment on the inside of them, and that still didn’t cut the odor, Kuhlman said.
“I was back there again (Thursday) night, standing out in the road more than 80 feet away, and could smell the odor,” he said.
Health department officials immediately declared the home unfit for human occupancy. The home’s 86-year-old owner and his 48-year-old daughter are the sole residents and, according to Kuhlman, were cooperative throughout the process.
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Upon further investigation, Kuhlman said the daughter and her cats had left their Detroit-area residence, and moved in with the father in early June. Kuhlman said the cats were all kept indoors at both locations.
“They had a horrendous cat-hoarding problem with her up there, the neighbors were complaining and the city didn’t do anything,” Kuhlman said. “When I talked to their code-enforcement department, they said they don’t have their own animal-control agency so they turned it over to the police.”
Kuhlman said it appears the matter was not pursued by authorities in the Oakland County community of Birmingham. He speculates there probably were 40 cats initially, but those numbers quickly multiplied after the woman and her pets moved in with her father.
“By the number of babies that we retrieved and by how many pregnant ones are currently in animal control, I would suspect there might have been 10 to 15 cats born a week there,” Kuhlman said. “So, even if she started at 40 (cats), they’ve been there two months, so, eight times 10 is 80 kittens right there.”
Kuhlman said he and three other officials were injured by aggressive cats during the recovery process. They received immediate medical care.
St. Joseph County Animal Control has sought additional resources from Kalamazoo County SPCA, Cass County Animal Control and local volunteers.
By Thursday night, all but about a half-dozen cats had been secured, Kuhlman said. He expected those to be captured by some point Friday.
“We had a vet in (Thursday) helping us and they are aware of some rescue organizations in Indiana,” he said. “It’s not our goal to have to euthanize any of them, but our county can’t handle that many cats … it is causing a significant burden on the animal control facility.”
Meanwhile, Kuhlman has served a temporary restraining order on the two residents, prohibiting them from entering the home. Kuhlman said the odor in the house…