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Animals rescued in Charleston hoarding case

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Nineteen cats and three dogs are looking for homes after being taken by authorities from a Market Drive home on Charleston's West Side late Tuesday afternoon.

Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association Director Chelsea Staley said Metro 911 contacted the animal shelter about 4 p.m. Tuesday in response to a domestic call. She said a couple lived at the home and the husband wanted his wife's animals out of the house.

"The tenant called on themselves," Staley said.

Both Kanawha County humane officers responded to the call. Charleston's two humane officers would typically respond to calls in the city, but one recently retired and the other was on leave Tuesday.

Staley and another shelter worker accompanied the officers to the home. She called the home's condition "deplorable" and was surprised the building hadn't been condemned.

"There was poop everywhere," she said. "There were paper plates of food everywhere. There was no furniture ... The ceiling fan was hanging by the electrical cords. You could smell the house from the street."

Staley said the couple was cooperative, and the woman was "distraught" that she had to give up the animals.

By 6 p.m., the humane officers and shelter workers had removed the animals and taken them to the shelter for examination and intake. The late-day call and sheer number of animals meant the shelter staff had to quickly prepare a place for the animals and ready litter boxes and food.

"The staff here rallied to get ready," Staley said.

Though the home was in bad shape, the animals appeared to be cared for, shelter workers said. All had ear mites and some cats had nasal and eye discharge, but it appeared they were well fed.

"They were actually in pretty good shape," Staley said.

Bethany Hively, the shelter's veterinary technician, said she noticed none of the animals went straight for food or water when they were brought in. She said that's always a good sign.

"They weren't starving when we put them in their cages," Hively said.

Nearly all the cats are roughly the same age, and most are mixed-breed ragdolls. One was pregnant upon intake. None appeared to be spayed or neutered.

All 19 cats and three dogs will be up for adoption tomorrow, and all received required vaccinations upon intake at the shelter.

It was unclear Tuesday night if charges would be filed in the case. Staley said police obtained the phone number for the couple's landlord.

This was the first case of animal hoarding to which the shelter has responded since August, when it took custody of 17 dogs, mostly Chihuahuas, from an elderly woman. Shelter staff said they typically respond to a handful of hoarding cases every year.

Contact writer Matt Murphy at Matt.Murphy@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4817. Follow him on Twitter @DMLocalGov and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DailyMailLocalGov.


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