Animal hoarding is a particularly sad type of hoarding, as it affects far more lives than just the person responsible.
Animals are innocent creatures, and many “collectors” start out with the best intentions, but without stringent care and population control, numbers of animals can quickly exceed an individual’s capacity to care for them.
When a hoarder is no longer able to care for their animal charges, they can make some desperation-fueled decisions that seem pretty wild to the rest of us — like cramming 24 cats into a car and leaving them there with no water while outside temperatures are in the mid-80s.
Leaving any number of animals in a car in such a manner is unacceptable, but this case stood out for its extreme numbers.
The incident took place late last month in Southern California, in the parking lot of the Quality Inn Ontario Convention Center. The situation became clear when the meowing coming from the car was noticed and the humane society was notified.
What they found was appalling.
“Our Humane officers are on scene where 24 cats have been trapped in a car reaching upwards of 118°,” the Inland Empire Humane Society & S.P.C.A. shared on April 26. “The cats and kittens were meowing in distress and our Humane officers were able to successfully break into the vehicle and are now safely rescuing the cats.”
“The cats had no water or fresh food in the Honda Civic in which they were trapped,” an update from the humane society noted.
The car was filthy with cat urine and feces — the humane society described it as “excrement infested” — and cats were crammed in every corner of the car, including the trunk.
Thankfully, they were rescued in time.
“They are now in the care of our veterinary staff that is assessing their health and will be rehabilitating them,” the humane society shared in a follow-up post on the same day.
The owner, who was staying at the hotel, was “issued 24 citations for crimes against animals and animal in vehicle,” according to People.
The incident was horrifying enough in its own right, and it was a mercy that the 24 cats were alive and being cared for properly, but the case was far from over. Less than a week later, humane society employees found themselves back at the same location, and this time what they discovered was even more sickening.
“Our Humane officers have rescued 42 additional cats — including 10 sick and malnourished kittens — at the same location where 24 cats were trapped in a hot car with an inside temperature of 118° last Sunday (4/26),” they posted on May 1.
“Unfortunately, 24 of the 42 cats were deceased (most likely for several weeks) and were found crammed in a storage container at the site after a strong, putrid smell was reported.
“After further investigation, it was discovered that there were 18 surviving cats hidden in the individual’s hotel room; the same individual who had 24 cats trapped in their car.
“All surviving cats are now safely being treated in our care and the individual is facing charges for animal cruelty. Our veterinary team is assessing and caring for the cats, who will be available for Foster to Hold & Foster to Adopt!”
Despite the terrible conditions these cats and kittens have experienced, some time and proper care has done them a world of good.
“They’re doing so well and are finally showing their true colors,” the humane society posted on Wednesday. “They love being pet and snuggled and are ready to be fostered or adopted by YOU.”
Every year people are warned that temperatures quickly skyrocket inside cars, and every year more animals are found dead or have to be rescued because people ignore safety guidelines.
“Please DO NOT leave animals alone in a vehicle,” the humane society urged. “It is illegal and they can experience severe trauma and irreparable damage when temperatures reach certain levels (85° outside is 119° in a vehicle).
“Please keep the pets of our community safe and report any animals under dangerous conditions.”
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