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Vets Assess Health Of Surviving Cats From Thurmont Animal Hoarding Case

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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.

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