When authorities were called to an Indiana house after an elderly woman died there this month, they found a home covered in feces, urine — and dozens upon dozens of cats.
At some point, authorities also discovered a child who had been living in the home with the elderly woman and two other adults — a husband and wife. What is unclear was how the child is related to the other residents, when the child was found and in what condition.
Animal cages, plastic bins and dirty cat litter were scattered around the one-story home in the small Indiana town of Daleville.
Over the next few days, crews wearing hazmat suits were at the home rescuing the animals, according to local news media reports.
The final tally: 111 cats. Many of which are female and pregnant, according to a Fox affiliate. Some were kittens no older than a day.
Muncie animal Shelter took this photo of living conditions for 90+cats in Daleville garage. pic.twitter.com/QJSrDGvJfI
— David MacAnally (@DavidMacAnally) August 11, 2016
Steve Wood, 51, and Angela Lock-Wood, 47, are facing child-neglect charges. The elderly woman, who died of natural cases, was Lock-Wood’s mother, according to the Muncie Star Press.
The couple were charged Tuesday with a Level 6 felony for knowingly placing the child “in a situation that endangered the dependent’s life or health,” according to charging documents. A Level 6 felony is punishable by six months to 2½ years in prison. Online court records show the two are scheduled for an initial hearing Aug. 29.
The child is now in the custody of Child Protective Services, according to the Star Press.
Eric Hoffman, the Delaware County chief trial deputy prosecutor, said the couple was not arrested. He declined to comment on the pending charges or on the living conditions in the home, which, according to the newspaper, had already been condemned before authorities arrived.
— Douglas Walker (@DouglasWalkerSP) August 18, 2016
Daleville police did not return a call from The Washington Post.
The Muncie Animal Shelter has started a GoFundMe page to help pay for the sudden influx of animals — all needing to be spayed or neutered and vaccinated.
“Our cat rooms are literally overflowing. We are out of cages, nearly out of funds, and out of space,” says the page. “The cats that were removed are going to require a lot of medical attention that, unfortunately, the shelter does not have the funds for.”
The organization is hoping to raise $9,000. It had raised $6,810 as of about 3 p.m. Friday.
Most of the cats have upper respiratory infections and are infested with fleas, according to the page. Some tested positive for feline leukemia and feline AIDS, Phil Peckinpaugh, the shelter’s director, told the Star Press.
Cat hoarding rescue Wednesday NIGHTBEAT pic.twitter.com/39nn09uUff
— David MacAnally (@DavidMacAnally) August 10, 2016
About 50 of the cats have been placed with rescue groups, while about 30 have been adopted, Peckinpaugh told the newspaper.
“We’re taking it one day at a time,” Peckinpaugh said. “We’ve received a lot of support from the community and other support groups.”
Efforts by The Post to reach Peckinpaugh on Friday were unsuccessful.
In describing the conditions of the house to local news media, Peckinpaugh said it was impossible for him to stay inside without protection for more than 10 seconds. He described it as the worst case of hoarding he has ever seen, he told a local NBC affiliate.
“Every square inch of the home was covered with feces and urine — was just horribly sad,” Peckinpaugh told the TV station. “It was the most overpowering smell of ammonia I’ve ever smelled. Mix that with the stale air that’s in there.”
— Deanna Fry (@DeannaFryTV) August 19, 2016