MOUNT VERNON — The group responsible for removing cats from the cat shelter returned approximately 30 cats to the shelter Monday night.
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 group returning the cats received a receipt for each cat from humane society officials, documenting that the cat was returned.
Two veterinarians from Town & Country Veterinarian Clinic, Dr. Greg Price and Dr. Becky Page, were present Monday night to evaluate the health condition of the 30 felines.
“Some appeared in good physical condition,” Price told the News this morning. “Some had signs of ringworm, upper respiratory infection, fevers. One young cat has FIP, feline infectious peritonitis.”
Although many of the cats are ill, Price said no cats were euthanized Monday night.
Price said the cats had collars with their names written on them, making it easy for the veterinarians to identify the animals as well as review each of the medical records. Records, according to Price, showed a pattern of chronic illness. He said some of the cats had been at the shelter since 2008.
“The diseases that existed in the shelter, it becomes a collection of cats with chronic diseases,” Price said.
“Ringworm is temporary, but cumbersome to treat,” he said.
Upper respiratory infections can be both viral and bacterial in nature, and when they work together, Price said, “Cat’s don’t recover fully; they end up with a sneezy, sniffly chronic disease.”
According to Price, when cats at a shelter carry these types of infections, it is easy for them to infect incoming cats, creating an environment for sickly animals.
“The zero-kill philosophy the shelter had was like opening a Pandora’s Box,” Price said. “You have all these animals with chronic illnesses. It is killing them, but it’s killing them slowly.”
Price said more cats died at the shelter from natural causes than were euthanized.
“When you have cats dying on a daily basis of natural causes — that’s inhumane,” Price said.
Price said the original goals of the cat shelter were to provide a place for cats in the community to be taken off the streets and adopted out.
“Those two points were lost over the last number of years. There are really going to be some tough choices made to accomplish those goals,” Price said.
In his private veterinary practice, Price said he has treated a large number of cats over the last two years that were adopted from the cat shelter; many, he said, developed FIP.
“This could have been avoided if the shelter was run in the manner intended,” Price said.
Price said the conditions at the cat shelter were improving with recommendations passed down by The Ohio State University.
“They are working on it,” Price said. “It smells better. They have exterminators to get rid of the rodents and are working with heating and cooling to improve the air quality. They are going over everything.”
Price said the cats will continue to be evaluated, but said he was not certain of the protocol that will be followed.
“We were just asked to help evaluate those 30 cats last night,” Price said.
According to Tara Smith, who was approved in November for the position of program feline manager at the humane society, she and other volunteers made an aggressive push to encourage adoption of the cats. As a result, she said, about 200 were adopted, some were sent to feline rescue programs in other cities and states, and the rest were fostered out to one location.
On Dec. 31, board members discovered the cats were missing. Responding to a call to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, a deputy determined there had been no breaking and entering, and filed the incident report as a disturbance.
On Jan. 8, the KCSO received another call, reporting a larceny at the cat shelter.
The board of directors of the humane society and the group that removed the cats from the shelter have retained legal counsel and have been advised not to comment on the situation. William Kepko, attorney for the humane society, said the society would make a statement in a couple of days.
News Managing Editor Samantha Scoles contributed to this story.