Shelter tries to scratch up help for cats taken from Beaverton apartment

Woman could face neglect charges after 31 felines seized
by: Submitted photo, Tawnya Cantu holds a female cat while Karen Riley treats its serious eye injury. The cat was among those seized last week in Beaverton

Washington County Animal Services officials are looking for foster homes for nearly three dozen cats, from young kittens to older adult felines, that were seized Friday evening from a Murrayhill-area apartment.

Many of the cats were in terrible shape, with health problems ranging from eye ulcers and respiratory infections to ear mites and dehydration. Four of the cats were pregnant.

Beaverton police are investigating the case, and the 36-year-old woman who owns the cats could possibly face several animal neglect charges.

Susan Field with the Bonnie L. Hays Small Animal Shelter in Hillsboro said county officials could not yet allow people to adopt the cats, but many - especially the pregnant cats - should be in homes while the case is resolved.

'It would be much better for them to be in homes and not here,' Field said. 'It's better than having a family here at the animal shelter.'

The animal shelter is providing basic medical care for the animals, she said. Many of those in bad shape have been sent to area veterinarians, something that can get expensive.

Eleven cats suffered from conjunctivitis and 10 were dehydrated. Three felines had active corneal ulcers and four others had healing corneal ulcers, which could lead to blindness, said Karen Riley of Washington County Animal Control.

One cat had a wound that required the amputation of its tail.

'All the cats are receiving medication,' Field said.

The care is costing about $10 per animal, something Field hopes will be covered by donations.

'If folks feel generous and would like to donate to help defray the cost of those medications, that would be good,' she said.

Overwhelming stench

Beaverton police seized the 31 cats at about 4 p.m. Friday from an apartment in the 14000 block of Southwest Teal Boulevard.

A concerned neighbor reported a suspicious odor coming from the apartment next door, prompting the police investigation.

Officer Ryan Potter met with the witness, who took him into her apartment and garage where he could smell a strong ammonia odor apparently coming from the shared walls connecting the units.

The two walked outside to inspect something seeping from the bottom of the neighbor's attached garage that smelled like cat urine.

Because of the distinct ammonia odor and the neighbor's concern for two children residing in the smelly home, Officer Mark Groshong joined the investigation.

After gaining the tenant's permission, the two officers walked through the woman's apartment where they were overwhelmed by the stench.

A search of the home revealed about 15 cats in the garage, several more in the upstairs bedrooms and floors soaked with cat urine.

The woman reportedly told police that she took in three pregnant stray cats about eight months ago. Those cats had kittens, which in turn had litters of their own.

Many of the kittens in the animal shelter were three to six months old. There also was another group that was six to 10 months old.

'You could see the pattern,' Field said. 'About every six months there was a litter of kittens.'

Sgt. Robert Davis and Sgt. Darren Fletchall went to the apartment and called Larry McClintock of Critter Gitter to remove the adult cats and kittens. Fletchall helped McClintock round up all 31 felines.

The cats were taken to the Bonnie L. Hays Small Animal Shelter in Hillsboro for evaluation and placed in protective custody.

The case was forwarded to the Washington County district attorney's office for review and possible charges.