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Animal rescue turned hoarding: 112 cats taken from North Las Vegas home

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Animal rescue turned hoarding: 112 cats taken from North Las Vegas home

By Jacqui Heinrich. CREATED Jul 24, 2014

North Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- According to investigators, it was an animal rescue turned hoarding situation in North Las Vegas when animal control took 112 cats from a home.

The original number of cats taken from the home was 60, but that number grew to more than 100 the next day.

The floor of the home was covered in about an inch of feces and some of the cats had feces matted to their faces.

Animal control officers took the cats to Lied Animal Shelter where they will be placed on a 10-day hold while an investigation is launched, but Action News already has the pet owner's side of the story. She said she didn't even realize how many cats she had until it was a problem too big for her to handle.

She doesn't want to show her face or use her name, afraid of what people will think of her, but this pet owner said her heart was breaking as animal control officers hauled cage after cage full of felines out of her house after she posted a plea to an animal rescue page asking for help. "I never meant to keep that many cats," the woman said.

Animal rights advocates are shocked over the situation. "This is someone who was in rescue circles. None of us knew that this person had such a deep problem. There's a fine line between rescue and hoarding," said Gina Greisen of Nevada Voters for Animals.

The pet owner said she was trying to house strays and rescues but things just got out of hand. "I did the best I could, but my goal was to have them adopted out and keep a couple for myself," she said.

Problems piled when the home's running water and air conditioning stopped working some time ago, creating a stench that kept the neighbors up at night. One neighbor said they had repeatedly spoken to the woman about flies and roaches crawling into their property across the fence.

At least two animal control officers were treated on site by ambulance after being overcome with illness from the stench of ammonia from all the urine in 110 degree heat. "The house will be temporarily closed. It is unfit for anybody to be inside," said Aaron Patty, spokesman for the North Las Vegas Police Department.

Police are working with social services to get the woman help, but animal advocates said those cats need help too. "We're glad to see at the very least that most of them were in decent condition," Greisen said.

The woman said she realized she shouldn't have this many cats, but it was just too late. "Think a thousand times before you take in ferals. When you realize that you are in over your head you reach out and realize you have a problem," she said.

Police said right now they don't know whether this case will warrant any charges, that's under investigation. Until then, the cats will remain at the Lied Animal Shelter but space is limited.

The Animal Foundation currently has dozens of cats and kittens available for adoption, and more waiting for foster families. They can't guarantee they'll have room for all of these cats when the hoarding investigation concludes.

"We need to create that space. It is a lot of shuffling, on average we're getting 110 new animals every day at the shelter here," said Andy Bischel, Director of The Animal Foundation.

If you'd like to help, Bischel said the best thing you can do is adopt or foster. Find more information by clicking here.

Jacqui Heinrich

Jacqui Heinrich

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Jacqui Heinrich is currently an Emmy Award-winning anchor and reporter for Action News.