DALEVILLE, Ind. – Officials removed more than 70 cats from a Daleville home on Wednesday morning in what is being called one of the worst cases of pet hoarding in Delaware County.
Authorities were called to a home in the 13900 block of West Daleville Road on Tuesday after a 75-year-old resident passed away. When authorities arrived at the home, they discovered at least 70 cats and several dogs.
Fifteen cats and two dogs were removed from the house on Tuesday, and on Wednesday Muncie Animal Shelter Director Phil Peckinpaugh and other shelter employees returned to the property to rescue the remaining cats. Crews will return again on Thursday to rescue at least 30 additional cats still inside the home.
Crews had to enter the home with full hazmat suits because the smell was so terrible.
“I couldn’t stay in the home for longer than 10 seconds. The smell of ammonia, it was the most overpowering smell of ammonia I’ve ever smelled and mix that with the stale air that’s in there inside the home and feces compounded inside of that,” Peckinpaugh said.
Peckinpaugh says it was one of the worst animal hoarding cases they have ever seen in Delaware County.
“Every square inch of the home was covered in feces and urine. It’s just horribly said,” he said.
He said a large majority of the female cats are pregnant, meaning they will likely have well over 100 cats. Some of the cats are about one day old. They were taken to a veterinarian where they can be monitored and bottle fed full time.
Currently, the cats are in cages at the animal shelter in the garage because the shelter is full and does not have room for any more cats.
“I have no idea how we’re going to pay to spay and neuter all these animals and to vaccinate all these animals. It’s definitely a cause for concern for me. I don’t think I’ve ever been more concerned than I am right now about our financial status," said Peckinpaugh.
The Muncie Animal Shelter is asking for the public’s help with providing foster homes, cages, and food. The cats will be up for adoption as soon as Thursday. Peckinpaugh said they need to make sure the cats are spayed or neutered and have vaccinations before they can be adopted. The owners voluntarily surrendered the cats to the shelter.
According to Daleville police, several people were living in the home at the time of the elderly woman’s death, including a child.
Police say the home was condemned by the health department recently. They are looking into potential criminal charges against the caretaker in the home.
Potential charges would include neglect for both the elderly woman and the child due to the horrible living conditions.