JACKSON, Mississippi—The Humane Society of the United States is assisting the City of Crystal Springs with the rescue of approximately 176 cats from an alleged large-scale neglect situation. Mississippi Animal Rescue League also assisted on-scene.

Law enforcement served a search and seizure warrant on three residential properties owned by one individual around 9 a.m. on Jan. 31. The cats were found in filthy, fly and flea-infested conditions throughout the residences. Many cats were living in stacked, cramped and rusty wire cages while others were loose, hiding behind furniture and debris. Litterboxes were overflowing with feces and many of the cats had no apparent access to water with empty, dry bowls in their crates.

Responders noted that the stench of ammonia was so strong in one of the residences that it was hard to take a deep breath without coughing and the fumes made their eyes burn.

Cats could be heard sniffling and wheezing—a licensed veterinarian identified upper respiratory infections, skin conditions and eye issues among the population. Ten deceased cats were found in a freezer. While some cats were eager to be petted by responders, most of the cats appeared alert and cautious as the responders conducted the rescue operation.

“It breaks my heart to imagine these cats living day after day in small, filthy cages without even the basic care they need,” said Laura Koivula, director of animal crimes for the Humane Society of the United States. “I feel hopeful knowing what we are doing here today means these cats are going to have a chance to experience a life of play, affection and lounging in a sunny spot on a comfortable bed.”

“The City of Crystal Springs is so thankful the Humane Society of the United States came down here to help us rescue the cats from a terrible situation. We are so impressed with the commitment, organization, planning and preparedness of the HSUS,” said Mayor Sally Garland. “What we are doing not only helps the animals, but the person who was struggling to meet their needs.”

The HSUS transported the animals to a safe, confidential location where they will receive veterinary attention and expert care while the court process determines custody. RedRover volunteers are assisting the HSUS with the care of the cats.

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