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Cats Seized from Raid Ready for Adoption

Twenty-one felines rescued from a Brighton animal hoarder have received a clean bill of health.

The director of Livingston County Animal Control is anxious to find homes for 21 cats seized during a raid on two vacant Brighton houses where they and a lone dog were being kept by an 80-year-old woman. 

Animal Control Director Debbie Oberle wants to find new owners for as many of the cats as possible and not have to euthanize more. 

"Two have been euthanized because they were extremely old and in poor health," Oberle said. She said the animals have all been spayed and neutered and treated for infections such as ear mites. She said the felines are now "good to go."

A case of hoarding

The woman the cats belonged to is the owner of the houses which were raided, but she was not living in either home at the time.

According to Brighton Police Chief Tom Wightman, she was residing at a nearby house on Woodlake Drive owned by her daughter. On April 28 police, armed with search warrants, conducted a raid on the houses, on Woodlake and nearby Whispering Oaks.

There, they found 23 cats—many of them sickly—and one dog.  

The houses' owner was taken to the hospital, where Wightman says she was determined by attending physicians to be in good physical and mental condition, given her age. 

"We had her checked out thoroughly," he said. He added his department will not seek charges against the woman. 

"She has been cooperative," Wightman said. He said the woman is now living with a daughter in Whitmore Lake.  

A concerned Oberle called the case the "third instance of animal hoarding" since she was appointed director several months ago. She says the reason for the rash of such incidents may be recent TV shows which have highlighted the problem. As a result, she says, citizens are reporting such cases more to authorities.

Two houses condemned

Wightman said after the initial raid police returned to the houses and found "a couple more" cats that had been hiding and escaped detection earlier. No more dogs were found. 

Wightman says the houses where the animals were living in poor conditions have now been condemned by the city for various code violations. 

"The city served her notice of what she must do to bring the homes up to code," he said. 

The animals were taken to animal control after the raid. "She did not resist the removal efforts and gave (animal control) permission to adopt out as many as possible," Wightman says.   

Cata available for adoption are listed on the animal control website (http://www.livingstonlive.org/lcac) with their names, photos and descriptions.

"They're all ready to go," Oberle says. "All are good with people but need a moderately quiet home. That's what they're used to. They come in all sizes and colors."

The cats range in age from 4 to 13 or 14.  The adoption fee for a cat more than four months old is $90 and a second cat can be obtained for just $1, Oberle said.  

Oberle said all of the cats have been house-trained but tend to be shy around humans because of lack of contact, and they would need to be placed in a relatively quiet home setting.

Pet control clinic

On a related note, Oberle said her department will soon be offering a spaying and neutering clinic for low-income pet owners. The clinics will be held on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month, and fees for spaying and neutering will be considerably reduced.

The cost will be $25 for male neutering and $50 to have a female spayed. The first  clinic is tentatively scheduled for May 25. People who plan on coming are asked to being in their cat between 8 and 9 a.m. and pick it up between 3 and 5 p.m.

"Eventually, we'll do dogs, too," Oberle said.

Sara May 11, 2011 at 05:33 PM
Thank you so much for bring this issue to our attention. I'm a researcher for the series Confessions: Animal Hoarding, currently airing on Animal Planet that tells the stories of people overwhelmed by the number of pets they own. The problem is on the rise and affect communities across America. If you are concerned about the health of animals in someone's care and suspect they may be hoarding them, we might be able to help. Most animal hoarders don’t see themselves as hoarders, and sometimes don’t intentionally collect animals. Their relationship with their animals has threatened their relationships with friends and family. Most of these situations aren’t dealt with until they become criminal. This results in animals being euthanized by over-stressed shelters, and doesn’t address the underlying psychological issues - meaning nearly 100% of people end up in the same situation again. We are dedicated to finding comprehensive long-term solutions and believe therapy to be key to this. We can bring in experts to help people and their pets. If you or someone you know needs help because animals have overrun their life, visit www.animalhoardingproject.com to learn more and submit their story. Alternatively, contact me directly at help@animalhoardingproject.com or toll-free at 1 -877-698-7387. We will treat all submissions with confidentiality and respect.
Cyndi Beauchamp May 11, 2011 at 10:07 PM
What a wonderful job the new Director is doing. She deserves a raise for her efforts. She has done more in six months since taking the position then the previous one did in her over 10 years! Bravo!! Thank you Debbie Oberle!
Tom Tolen May 13, 2011 at 01:57 AM
Livingston County Prosecutor David Morse said today (Thur.) that he is seeking animal neglect charges against the 80-year-old woman who kept the cats and dog. However Morse said he is merely interested in prohibiting her from owning any more animals. He indicated he is not seeking jail time for the woman but rather probationary status.

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