WEST WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Two West Warwick residents will be facing charges after nearly two dozen cats were found living in squalor, according to the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RISPCA).
RISPCA Special Agent Michael Longtin tells 12 News that officers removed 16 cats, seven kittens and one dog from a Clyde Street home Thursday night. He believes there are more cats still inside the home that have not yet been caught.
Longtin said the cats that were captured are emaciated and covered in fleas. He added that most of the cats are feral, and two animal control officers were injured while trying to catch them.
The cats are currently being evaluated by a veterinarian, according to Longtin. He said some of the cats may need to be put down due to the severity of their conditions.
The house, which Longtin said was in deplorable condition, has since been condemned by the town’s building inspector. No one will be allowed back inside the home until it is cleaned.
Inside the home, Longtin said officers found piles of feces on the floors and furniture. He said the house also reeked of ammonia from the urine.
Longtin described the home’s condition as the worst that the RISPCA has ever seen.
The residents, identified by Longtin as a man and woman, will eventually face animal cruelty charges.
It’s unclear at this time when officers will be able to get back inside the home and catch the remaining cats.
Lisa Venditelli lives next door and described the homeowner as a great guy who simply took in too many stray cats.
“If you didn’t know him, it may look bad,” Venditelli said. “But honestly, he had no cruel intentions for the animals at all. I think he was just trying to do a good thing for the cats and it just got out of control.”
12 News spoke to the homeowner, who explained that he has been trapping stray cats in the neighborhood for years with the intention of bringing them to nearby shelters. But he claims every time he’s tried, the shelters were at capacity and couldn’t take them in.
Barbara Ziobrowski said the neighborhood is inundated with stray cats.
“We have people that are dropping cats in this neighborhood just because they see people taking care of them,” she explained.
Ziobrowski said her neighbor isn’t the only one taking stray cats in.
“I trap cats too,” she said. “I have 22 here. Come arrest me.”