Sixty-eight cats were recovered from a van in Ontario, Ore., this weekend after the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office responded to a complaint. The deputy and sheriff who responded to the call came across a van full of cats.
Cynthia Allen, the owner of the van, told authorities that there were only 26 cats inside her van, but that was certainly not the case after she turned the van over to the deputies and nearly 70 cats were removed from the car.
Elizabeth Lyon of the Ontario Feral Cats Project described the scene saying: "It was just a swirling mass of cats around your feet. Every step I took down that center aisle, I had to wiggle my foot in so I didn't step on somebody."
Five cats were found dead, and almost all of the ones found alive were emaciated. Some had lost an eye to infection, and a few were missing both eyes. All of the cats are being treated for Giardina, a waterborne parasite, as well as being given medication to kill any worms that may be living in the cats’ intestines.
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The van contained 32 cat carries stuffed with shoes and other possessions, which suggests Allen may have a hoarding problem.
“We don’t want to vilify her,” Lyon said. “She has been very cooperative about this, and hoarding is a psychological disease.”
Allen will most likely be charged with Animal Neglect I and II. She has been cooperative with the authorities by voluntarily turning her van over to them. While the Feral Cats Project is focusing on providing housing and medical care for the cats, the Sheriff’s Office is putting together court documents, which will allow the cats to be adopted.
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The Ontario Feral Cat Project will be partnering up with the local PetSmart and Petsense stores. As soon as the cats are back to good health, they will be available to adopt at those locations.