Crime

Rougemont man charged with cruelty to 61 cats

Hector Ylanan Balaga
Hector Ylanan Balaga

The county animal control officer has charged a 75-year-old man with being cruel to 61 cats he kept at his Rougemont home.

Hector Ylanan Balaga, of 301 Bill Poole Road, faces 61 misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals.

Cpl. Wendy Pinner, the animal control officer, first went to Balaga’s house in January after neighbors complained about a foul smell coming from it.

Pinner found that most of Balaga’s 61 cats were being kept in “small, wire-type cages” in a shed and under a carport, said Capt. Donald R. Baker of the Durham sheriff’s office.

Balaga let Pinner take five cats on Jan. 22 and four on Jan. 26, but refused to give up any others, Baker said.

Pinner got a court order Jan. 31 for Balaga to release the other 52 cats.

“Most of the cats had to be euthanized because of medical issues, and only a few were sent to a cat rescue association,” Baker said.

Balaga was ordered held on $50,000 bail on Wednesday and is scheduled to appear in court on April 16.

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