Over 140 cats seized in Park Township hoarding situation

(Photo provided)

On August 3, 2020, Park Township Officials received a tip regarding a potential stray cat hoarding situation located within a residential neighborhood in Park Township. After receiving and verifying the information provided, the Park Township Zoning Administrator and Code Compliance Officer obtained an Administrative Search Warrant from the 3B District Court in Centerville. 

On August 4, 2020, the officer executed the warrant. Assisting the township were the St. Joseph County Animal Control Agency, the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department, the Three Rivers Code Compliance Officer, and the Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Department. The property owner and a family member were present during execution of the Administrative Search Warrant. Both individuals were cooperative with the investigation. 

Upon arrival and exiting their vehicles, officials detected a foul smell that was determined to be coming from the residence. Even with the use of personal protective equipment officials found it difficult to overcome the foul smell. As a result of this investigation the home was found in deplorable condition and was deemed unsafe for human habitation by both Park Township officials and local health department officials.

As a result of the investigation, over 140 cats ranging from newborn to adult cats were seized from the inside the home. It took officials several hours to capture the animals. Several of the cats appeared to have health issues and will be evaluated by animal control staff and other professionals. It was determined that two of cats needed to be euthanized immediately. 

During the investigation, four officials received minor injuries from some of the aggressive cats and sought treatment for their injuries.

Due to the massive number of seizures, the St. Joseph County Animal Control Agency has sought additional resources from the Kalamazoo County SPCA, the Cass County Animal Control Agency, and local volunteers. This volume of seizures has placed an extreme burden on the resources at the animal control facility. The St Joseph County Animal Control Agency and Park Township will be seeking restitution for the costs associated with this investigation. 

Park Township has issued a citation to the property owner and are seeking other remedies to resolve this issue. The St. Joseph County Animal Control Agency is submitting a report to the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office for review. This case is still under investigation and review. 

Based on information provided, it is apparent that one of the family members is currently being investigated for the hoarding of cats in another community and has an open court case in that jurisdiction.

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