After over two months, 31 cats rescued from a hoarding situation inside a hot van are ready for adoption. CATS Cradle Shelter in Fargo, North Dakota has been caring for the homeless felines since their rescue in July. A drawn-out court case was keeping the shelter from moving forward with their adoption process, but the red tape has finally been cleared.
Tamara Fisher of Fargo has been charged with several counts of animal neglect after over 30 cats were found trapped in her van on a hot day. Officials believe Fisher had been living in the van with the cats after being evicted from several hotels.
There’s also evidence the woman had previously bred cats to sell to pet stores.
A Fargo Police community service officer was the first on scene after the department received a call about the van parked in a business’s parking lot. The officer found the van with the engine off and one window cracked. The outside temperature was around 80 degrees, and several panting cats could be seen through the van’s window.
Ready to act, officers proceeded to pull several cats out of a broken back window that had been covered with cardboard. Eventually they opened the doors, and there was a strong stench of urine and feces. Community service officer LaVerne Aventi told the media,
“We were dripping in sweat…our goal was to get those cats out as fast as we could.”
About an hour and a half after the rescue started, Fisher returned to her van.
She was obviously upset and claimed that officials had been “harassing me for months.” Officers then detained her and charged her with animal neglect. The cats she was hoarding were without water or adequate food, and they were living in deplorable conditions.
With 30 cats pulled from the van, CATS Cradle stepped up to take over. They wanted to keep the cats out of the already-full city pound, but taking in so many cats at once was no easy feat.
The cats were underweight, filthy, matted, and one cat had gum and duct tape stuck in his fur. Several of the cats showed signs of illnesses that are thought to be a result of inbreeding. None of the cats were spayed or neutered, so the first order of business was to separate the males from females. Most of the females went to foster homes, and the males stayed together in a room at the shelter. The separation was necessary as it was clear the cats had already been breeding.
One female cat gave birth to a litter of three kittens only days after the rescue. Unfortunately, only one kitten survived.
With the cats safely in their care, the shelter systematically got to work vetting each animal. Because it was a huge project, the shelter worked for several weeks without having official custody of the cats. It wasn’t until the court granted custody on August 30 that the adoptions could finally move forward. Several of the 25 adult cats and 6 kittens have already found new homes.
While most hoarding situations end in the people responsible voluntarily giving up their animals, this case was unusual. Fisher did not want to lose a single cat. And the fact the cats lived in a hot van as opposed to a house made the situation even more difficult. But despite the ordeal, all of the rescued cats are now happy and healthy.
REMEMBER: ADOPT, DON’T SHOP; FOSTERING SAVES LIVES & SPAY AND NEUTER!