Vets Assess Health Of Surviving Cats From Thurmont Animal Hoarding Case

THURMONT, Md. (WJZ)– A deplorable case of animal hoarding gets worse. More than 150 cats– dead and alive– are found on a Frederick County property.

Animal Control officers raided a house in Thurmont, and it has taken nine days to count the bodies.

Kai Jackson has the story.

The good news is that the surviving animals will be up for adoption. Sadly, they’re in the minority because most didn’t survive.

It may be among the worst cases of animal abuse in Maryland’s history. Armed with search warrants earlier this month, Animal Control officers removed some 150 cats from a house in Thurmont, Frederick County. Sixty-eight of them were dead.

“We had removed some deceased animals that were in plastic bags and igloo coolers,” Harold Domer of the Frederick County Animal Control said.

Officers say many of the dead animals were put in white plastic bags in shallow graves on the property.

It was a tragic case of animal hoarding. One in which neighbors say they were well aware.

“I think everyone knows about the smell,” a neighbor said. “Anytime that we went by, there was a smell.”

“When they are in different forms of decomposition, the odor is tremendous,” Domer said. “When we served the warrant on that Tuesday, we had a device that measured the ammonia smell, and it was over 300 particles per million, which does require gas masks.”

The homeowner now faces a number of charges, among them animal neglect.

“Not providing the necessary vet care and air for the animals because of the high ammonia smell and content,” Domer said.

Eighty-nine cats survived, and now veterinarians are assessing their health in hopes that they’ll be adopted.

But some neighbors say the home owner has been saving the lives of unwanted cats.

“Everybody knows around here, if you’ve got a cat you don’t want, you throw it in her yard, it’s going to be alright,” Brent Geouge said. “Because if you take it to the animal shelter, they’re going to kill it.”

Authorities said the owner faces 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine for each count once charges are formally filed.

Animal Control said some of the cats taken from the home alive were later euthanized because they were in such poor physical condition.

  • outkasts

    That person didn’t have the money to take care of them.Most of those animals would have been put to sleep anyway! 150 cats would be too much work for one person.

  • Georgia

    If they were taken to Barcs they definately would have been put to sleep. My daughter took her cat there and they promised her that if they couldn’t adoupt her in a few days they would call my daughter back, fourty- five minutes after my daughter left they killed her cat , even after leaving a donation and a crate. She called five days after dropping her off to check on her to be told by a very rude person that they had done this. Ny daughter said she would never bring another animal to their shelter and the woman said “Good, we don’t want you to” no wonder people hoard!

  • mdoc

    Georgia you could always volunteer at BARCS. I’m sure they need people who can call previous owners of discarded pets when there aren’t enough homes to go around for all of them. That way their owners who once deemded them disposable can come back to get them because they originally didn’t have time to find a suitable home so they dumped them on someone else, now suddenly they have time and really care about their animal.. Really…your daughter is part of the problem, not the solution.

  • Volunteer

    Yes BARCS definitely needs volunteers. They employ very few paid staff, the rest are volunteers. They must take every animal that animal control brings in. That’s over 30 animals a day, every day of the year.
    On the other hand, getting a call back regarding your animal is not really promised. If you bring the animal to Barcs, you forfeit any ownership and responsibility of that animal, it is no longer yours. It clearly states that in the paperwork you sign when surrendering an animal. If you could care for it, shouldn’t have surrendered it.

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