ASHLAND -- The Humane Society of Ashland County is seeking donations and assistance after recently removing more than 50 cats and 10 dogs from a single property in northern Ashland.
On Friday evening, the Ashland County Sheriff's Office was called to the location for an unrelated domestic situation and discovered the animals living in "deplorable conditions," according to Sgt. Cindy Benner.
Together, the Sheriff Office and the Humane Society took 10 dogs and 37 cats that evening via a mix of owner surrenders and seizures. Most of the cats were surrendered willingly, but select cats, two adult dogs and eight puppies were seized. The Humane Society returned Saturday to collect eight more cats and again Monday to remove another nine.
"She estimated 80-plus cats, so we don't know how many there are. We're still collecting and counting," said Tiffany Meyer of the Humane Society. "I got nine more tonight, and I saw another eight there. They hide, so there could be more than that."
Animals were all examined by Dr. Kristine LaFever and staff at Claremont Vet Clinic and will be cared for by the Humane Society of Ashland County with the assistance of the Vet Science Program at the Ashland County West Holmes Career Center, headed by Anne Leidigh.
The owner-surrendered animals will be made available for adoption as soon as their conditions allow. The animals will also receive any relevant vaccines and be spayed or neutered before becoming available.
Many of the cats were suffering from upper respiratory problems. Some had watery eyes and eye infections. Nearly all had worms and fleas.
"Understand that on average the Ashland County Humane Society, we do about 120 to 130 cat adoptions per year, so we've literally just taken in half a year of our total year adoption in cats," Meyer said.
Because of the influx of animals, the organization has an immediate need for more cat food and litter. The Humane Society updated its Amazon Wishlist for those who would like to donate. Donations could also be dropped off at the Barker Shop, located at 1260 East Main Street in Ashland.
Needs include Purina Cat Chow, Purina Kitten Chow, scoopable cat litter, adult cat litter pans, Iams large breed dog food and monetary donations for flea treatment of both dogs and cats.
The first group of cats could be spayed and neutered by Thursday. They could become available for adoption after that.
Anyone interested in adopting one of the cats should watch the Humane Society's Facebook Page and Petfinder. The adoption fee is $85 for cats and kittens.
Additionally, some of the cats will be transferred to a rescue in Columbus. The Humane Society of Delaware County has offered to take about 10 cats, according to Rhonda Hofer, president of the Humane Society of Ashland County.
"We're a small organization, so this helps. We appreciate that they reached out," Hofer said.
A hearing will be scheduled within 10 days to determine how the seized animals will be handled.
Benner declined to name the owner and property address in a Monday evening interview.
"We'd rather be able to get every one of those animals out, and right now, she is cooperating with us. That means a lot to us," she said. "We're trying to make this a smooth process."
Commissioner Jim Justice commented, too. He asked the community to remain patient and cited an incident earlier this year where the Humane Society seized more than 50 dogs.
"The last time we had something like this, people got death threats. People got scared, and things got out of control," Justice said. "We're trying to settle this as best as possible without that happening."