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Forum Communications, Published October 23 2012

More than 60 cats seized from Duluth home

DULUTH, Minn. - City police animal-control workers are working on an animal-hoarding case where more than 60 cats and kittens were found in a Central Hillside home.

“We are still working on the details of it,” Duluth Police Department’s lead animal-control worker Carrie Lane said. “We have gotten 63 cats out of the house.”

The felines are being cared for and examined at the city’s animal-control shelter while the Animal Allies Humane Society scrambles to make room for them at its shelters in Duluth and Superior.

“This is one of the largest hoarding situations that Animal Allies has experienced and will be one of the most difficult challenges we have faced,” Animal Allies Executive Director Rick Sailstad said in a news release. “We are asking animal lovers and the community at large to help us care and find loving homes for these cats and kittens.”

Most of the cats are in fairly good physical condition and can be handled, Lane said.

“As is very common with hoarders, I think he has been neglecting himself to take care of the cats,” she said. “We are working to determine whether or not this person can care for himself.”

The hoarding was discovered as animal-control workers investigated a problem with stray cats.

“We have been aware that there are a lot of stray cats in that neighborhood for a long time,” Lane said. “We were able to pinpoint where they were at. This man is someone who has been caring for a multitude of stray cats in the area. He would let some of them in and out of his house; it just got really out of control.”

As a result of the hoarding, Animal Allies Humane Society is seeking people to adopt cats currently in its Duluth and Superior shelters to make room for the hoarded felines.

“We already have 71 cats in the Duluth and Superior shelters,” John William Gustafson, Animal Allies Humane Society director of development and communications, said. “That is our capacity.”

In addition, the society has 69 kittens in foster care until they are old and strong enough to be adopted.

To make room in its shelters for the hoarded cats, Animal Allies is offering no-fee cat adoptions for the 71 cats currently available for adoption. The organization also is asking for donations as well as for foster families to care for some of the cats and kittens until they are ready for adoption.

Individuals and businesses interested in helping can call Animal Allies at (218) 722-2110.

The society hasn’t had to euthanize a healthy animal in the past three years, Gustafson said.

“These situations really challenge that goal to find homes for all healthy cats and dogs,” Gustafson said of the hoarding. “That is why we want to alert the community that this is a time we need their help.”