The city of Sugar Land’s animal shelter was already overcrowded and dealing with staffing shortages due to half its workers being fired for unauthorized euthanizations. Now, an influx of 138 cats removed from a hoarding house has added another layer of complication.
A Lakefield subdivision homeowner, who spoke to KPRC2 under the condition of anonymity, says the entire neighborhood is stunned by the number of animals the city of Sugar Land removed from a home on their street last week.
“I thought there was probably a dozen, maybe, and I thought that was a lot, but when the animal control came in I was just totally blown away,” the unidentified neighbor said.
Animal control officers removed 138 cats and several dogs from the home starting last Tuesday. That number is well beyond the four pets allowed per city ordinance, said spokesman Doug Adolph.
“Last Tuesday we got a call that came in through 3-1-1,” Adolph said. “A woman told us she has been caring for a large number of pets in her mother’s home. She wanted to remain anonymous, but she told us that she believed it was an unsafe condition inside this home and that it was too much for her to care for.”
Adolph said the pet’s owner, who was renting, had been hospitalized just days before. The spokesman said when animal control officers got inside the home they were greeted by a strong stench of ammonia, a dead cat, malnourished cats, and cats that had been living in their own waste due to the lack of litter training.
“I think Ann meant well. I really do,” the neighbor said. “I just think that she wanted to help and it got totally beyond anything she could handle. Once you get that many cats and they start breeding, what are you going to do?”
The neighbor, who also knows the homeowners, said there were cats living everywhere, including inside kitchen draws. He said the estimated cost to gut the kitchen and replace wood floors and sheetrock is $25,000.
The home is currently deemed uninhabitable by the city as animal control officers work to investigate.
“The investigation will focus on the city ordinance that only allows four pets per household, but also any sort of animal cruelty charges that may be appropriate,” Adolph said. “Hard to say if there will be any charges at all because, at the end of the day, this lady just needs help. Something wasn’t right about the conditions inside that home. Nobody lives that way.”
Adolph said a small number of cats were brought to Whiskerville, at their shelter, with the sickest cats taken to a temporary emergency shelter set up at Duhacset Park. He said many cats were found to have ringworms, parasites and Panleukopenia – a highly contagious virus.
“This virus can’t be treated. You can only treat the symptoms, and our vet tells us there’s a 50/50 chance the cats will survive,” Adolph said.
The illnesses caused the shelter to immediately quarantine both locations to try to control the spread. Sugar Land also deployed its emergency operations center Monday in an effort to get much-needed resources.