It’s not easy to take in 40 animals, treat their medical ailments and get them to new families.
But three local shelters are doing that with cats and dogs taken last month from a home in Pittsboro.
Authorities removed more than 150 animals from a mobile home and the surrounding property. Along with cats and dogs (more than 100 cats and dogs were found inside the small trailer), a 400-pound hog, poultry, horses and cows also were seized.
Chatham County Animal Services is still investigating Stephanie Joostema, the woman who lives in the mobile home. So far, she is charged only with allowing livestock to run at large.
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SAFE Haven for Cats, a cat rescue in North Raleigh, took in 34 cats found at Joostema’s home. The SPCA of Wake County took 10 cats and two dogs. The Wake County Animal Center took in a 130-pound lab that couldn’t walk when it was removed from the home. The Chatham County Animal Shelter and a few rescue groups in the western part of the state and in Virginia also took in animals.
To make adequate room for their new guests, the shelters, which fill up quickly in the summer, are looking for volunteers and people who are willing to adopt animals.
Most of the animals are doing well, shelter leaders said. The dog with Wake County has already started to walk again, said the shelter’s executive director, Jennifer Federico.
Typically, the Wake County Animal Center can’t assist with taking animals from hoarding situations. As a municipal shelter, it can’t turn away animals that are surrendered or abandoned in the area it serves, so it’s usually full, Federico said.
“This was a special case for us,” she said.
The SPCA of Wake County is still evaluating the animals it received, said spokeswoman Darci VanderSlik. Early observations showed skin and eye irritation, possible upper respiratory infections and hair loss.
One cat also appeared to be missing part of its tongue, VanderSlik said. If there are no serious medical problems, the cats should be ready for adoption within a week.
“These cats are so friendly, they’re going to make fantastic pets for someone some day soon,” VanderSlik said.
While the SPCA of Wake County and the county animal shelter struggled to find space for the animals, SAFE Haven for Cats is struggling to find the money to rehabilitate the cats. The rescue named the cats the Chatham County 34.
“As the cost of care grows, SAFE Haven is now asking for community support to help pay for the care of the Chatham County 34 before finding them safe, loving homes,” the organization said in a news release.
SAFE Haven’s executive director, Pam Miller, expects treatment of the animals to total thousands of dollars.
Some of the cats have upper respiratory infections. Two of the cats had kittens the night before SAFE Haven took them, and those kittens require extra care, including bottle feedings every five hours administered by volunteers.
Several cats also need extensive dental work, which can be up to $600 per procedure, Miller said.
The organization has already finished treating one cat, a female named Islip. She is the first of the Chatham County 34 to go up for adoption.
Miller said she expects most of the cats to be ready for adoption in the next week or two.
Want to help?
Information on how to donate and volunteer can be found at the following websites:
Wake County Animal Center: wakegov.com/pets
SAFE Haven for Cats: safehavenforcats.org
SPCA of Wake County: spcawake.org
Chatham County Animal Shelter: nando.com/1wi
Do you know an animal hoarder?
The American Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals notes that hoarding is a complex issue that encompasses mental health, animal welfare and public safety concerns. It’s estimated that there are 900 to 2,000 new cases of animal hoarding every year in the United States.
The ASPCA has a comprehensive FAQ that offers advice on how to spot a hoarder and how to help them – and the animals. Get more info at nando.com/1wj.