SPCA removes 40+ cats from Phila. home

TACONY - July 12, 2011

The outside of the home on the 6200 block of Walker Street in the Tacony section of Philadelphia is adorned with Fourth of July decorations.

Potted plants, statues, and even a pinwheel cover the area leading to the steps.

However, officials say inside the home is a completely different story.

"I haven't seen one like this where you have half the house decent, and the other half a mess; that's a little strange," SPCA spokesperson George Bengal said.

SPCA officers carried out two trash bags with two dead cats inside Tuesday afternoon.

They were among the more than 40 found and taken from inside the home.

SPCA officers say while the couple living in the house had noble intentions, the cats were living in unsanitary conditions.

They say the basement reeked of ammonia, urine and feces.

"They would not answer the door and allow the officer into the property. When the officers tried to make entrance through one of the upstairs windows then she finally realized that it was better for her to answer the door," Bengal said.

Officers say the woman living in the home has a history of saving feral cats. She'd bring them to the SPCA, pay to have them spayed and neutered, and ultimately provide a foster home.

Only her personal cats lived upstairs, while the feral cats lived in the basement.

Nearby residents are stunned by the SPCA findings. They say the couple are great neighbors who take care of their home.

"I'm really shocked; I wouldn't have thought it. [I] never had any problems with them, their house looks like it's cleaned. I never smelt anything, I wouldn't have known," neighbor Monique Van Winkle said.

City ordinance allows only 12 pets inside a residential home and the house did not meet zoning requirements to be an animal care facility.

While this may not appear to be a typical hoarding case, officials say most hoarders have noble intentions, but, too often, the situation snowballs out of control.

"There are so many feral cats out here and stray cats, they get overwhelmed and people bring them these animals and they can't say no," Bengal said.

The couple faces a long list of summary offenses and possibly, two misdemeanor animal cruelty charges for the two dead cats.

The names of the couple have not been released pending formal charges.

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