MOUNT VERNON — According to reports released Friday by the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded to two calls to the Knox County Humane Society’s cat shelter within nine days regarding the removal of the cats from the shelter.
Cat shelter holds open house – February 19, 2008
Population up, money down at cat shelter – December 13, 2008
Cat-astrophe continues – September 25, 2009
Issues at cat shelter may jeopardize dog program – November 10, 2009
No changes in policy at cat shelter – November 19, 2009
Cats saved; layoffs possible – January 4, 2010
Cat shelter investigation continues – January 16, 2010
Group returns cats to shelter – February 2, 2010
The first incident was called in to the KCSO by humane society board member Andrea Bennett on Dec. 31. Bennett advised the deputy that someone removed all the cats and cages, as well as all the books, from the cat shelter, according to the report.
While the deputy was there, Tara Smith arrived and advised she was the Feline Program Manager and the cats were removed while they cleaned the facility, the report states. The incident was filed as a disturbance.
On Jan. 8, The KCSO was called by David M. Abrams, who is characterized in the report as a cat shelter board member. There is no David M. Abrams listed as a board member of the humane society. However, the address and phone number listed in the incident report are the same as those the News has for David M. Guffey, chairman of the board of the humane society.
The complainant stated all of the cats, cages, books and medications had been removed from the shelter without the permission of the new board of directors. There was no forced entry and the complainant stated there were about 140 cats missing.
KCSO Capt. Richard Brenneman told the News the incident was an ongoing investigation and no other information regarding the case would be made available at this time. He said the case is not a high priority investigation because the KCSO has other cases to investigate such as the murder of Jean Davis, burglaries and the office’s normal flow of cases.
“We are swamped right now,” Brenneman said.
Smith provided the News with a copy of the statement she provided the KCSO during their investigation.
In the statement she said she believed she was in charge of the cat program and determined the building needed extensive cleaning. She stated the necessary cleaning could not be performed effectively with the cats present and implemented a plan to remove cats from the shelter through adoptions, placing cats in local foster care and feline rescue programs.
“These efforts resulted in many cats going to Washington, D.C., Michigan, Indiana and Ohio,” Smith said in her statement to the KCSO. “This, coupled the special pricing (for adoptions), hanging of flyers all around Knox and surrounding counties, the hanging of a large banner outside the building and extra advertising in other area newspapers resulted in the adoption of over 200 cats. This reduced the population to a very manageable level.”
The remaining cats were placed with local foster families, Smith said.
Guffey has issued a blanket “no comment” on the whole situation until the matter is resolved.