"It is one of the more extreme ones that I have seen," said Deputy Milicia Lynds of the Rutland County Sheriff's Department.
Lynds says the Rutland County Sheriff's Department has dealt with some tough animal abuse cases, but she has never seen anything like this.
"She didn't really seem aware of how bad the situation was. She said, you know, it was messy. And she knew that they needed to clean up. She said, but the cats were all healthy and she loved them and she fed them and the cats were great. That's what she told me," Lynds said.
But Deputy Lynds says that wasn't at all the case in a North Clarendon home. Sisters Eileen, Caroline and Linda Generess have lived together in their mobile home for many years. Neighbors have complained about a possible cat hoarding situation in the past, but Lynds says they had no idea how bad it had gotten.
"There was feces and urine all through the kitchen, on the counters, on all surfaces throughout the house. The animals were, a lot of them were skinny and had apparent injuries. Some of them, one of their eyes was extremely damaged," Lynds said.
Lynds says they seized 55 cats from an extreme hoarding situation. There were 4-foot piles of debris throughout the home. Animal feces and urine caked all the walls, the bathroom and even the sisters' beds. Many of the cats were gravely ill.
"We saw young cats with inflamed gums and loss of teeth. Some were very, very thin. There was kind of a range. I would say all of them had upper respiratory infections," said Gretchen Goodman of the Rutland County Humane Society.
Goodman says after the 5-hour rescue, 10 of the cats were in such poor health they were put down that night, four of which were kittens. Since the seizure, 20 cats have died.
"And the big one is we did test some of the cats and 50 percent of those we tested proved positive for either FIV or feline leukemia," Goodman said.
Both viruses plague many of the surviving cats and there is no known cure for either FIV or feline leukemia.
"Neglect to this degree is criminal," Goodman said.
Al three sisters are facing 10 counts each of animal cruelty. They are due back in court Oct. 16.
I spoke with one of the sisters at their home. She says they love their cats and are going to do whatever they can to get them back.
Both the sheriff's department and the Humane Society say this raises major concerns. The sisters are facing 10 counts each, but that number could change if more cats die.
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