Rescue groups adopt cats after number overwhelms animal control

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published September 30, 2015 | Updated October 5, 2015 4:45pm

 Police described the interior condition of a home in the 1000 block of Edgewood Drive as “deplorable.” The home contained 84 cats and seven dogs.

Police described the interior condition of a home in the 1000 block of Edgewood Drive as “deplorable.” The home contained 84 cats and seven dogs.

Photo provided by the Royal Oak Police Department

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ROYAL OAK — Ninety-one animals were pulled from a home near the city’s downtown after police said nearby residents complained of a foul odor coming from the house.

Police went to the home in the 1000 block of Edgewood Drive at about 1:20 p.m. Sept. 28 to assist Royal Oak Animal Control after residents who live near the house thought the couple living inside was hoarding pets.

Royal Oak Police Department Criminal Investigations Division Lt. David Clemens said the 54-year-old man and the 48-year-old woman at the home cooperated as officials removed 84 cats and seven dogs from the address just west of Main Street and north of Catalpa Drive.

“We’re still investigating but at this time haven’t filed any charges,” Clemens said Sept. 30. He added that the couple is cooperating with the investigation.

Clemens said the condition of the house was “deplorable.” He said the homeowners cooperated with authorities and were allowed access to the home before authorities declared it unsafe for human occupancy or use.

Police contacted the Oakland County Department of Human Services and Royal Oak code enforcement due to the poor condition of the home.

“We’ve had incidences like this — I don’t know to this level — but we’ve had incidences  in the past,” Clemens said. “Every city has hoarders.”

Royal Oak Chief Building Inspector Jason Craig explained that, procedurally, code enforcement officers send notices with a defined amount of time to correct an issue before they come to verify the issue’s resolution. If the issue has not been corrected, a ticket may be issued.

Craig said that the homeowner was issued a notice for foul odor in July, which was corrected upon return inspection on Aug. 12. Another complaint was received a week later, which was corrected on Aug. 31. The same address received a notice for keeping an inoperable vehicle at the house.

Craig said the homeowner received a notice for foul odor on Sept. 14, which resulted in a ticket.

“That’s where we’re at with it right now,” he said.

Craig did not go to the Edgewood Drive home, but he said that in his past experiences of hoarding-related odors, the smell has been extremely strong.

“I’ve been to houses like that, and it’s just a punch in the face,” he said.

Clemens said that due to the large number of animals, authorities contacted Oakland County Animal Control and Pet Adoption Center to assist with collecting and transporting the animals to the Oakland County Animal Shelter.

“The Oakland County Animal Control Division did a great job assisting our agency with this incident,” he said.

Oakland County Animal Control issued a statement on Sept. 30 looking for help from nonprofit animal rescue organizations to help treat and house the cats.

According to the statement, a number of the cats displayed symptoms associated with ringworm, which is a fungal disease.

“Ringworm is contagious to both humans and pets. We implemented our plan to limit exposure at our shelter,” Bob Gatt, manager of the Animal Control Division, said in the statement. Gatt stated that the number of animals put the animal shelter over its capacity to safely and humanely house cats.

As of Oct. 5, 79 cats had been adopted by a couple of rescue groups that reportedly wanted to remain anonymous. Bill Mullan, Oakland County media and communications officer, said that five of the cats had to be euthanized because of advanced disease discovered during the felines’ care.

“We needed someone who could really take them in and be equipped to care for them,” Mullan said. “The reality is it takes a lot of intensive care, especially with so many animals.”

Mullan said there was a public health care component involved with this situation.

“We’re ever grateful to the two animal rescue groups that stepped up and decided to take this on,” he said.

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