Cats seized from Niles home, man facing animal cruelty charges

Published 12:53 pm Friday, June 21, 2013

Niles City Police congregate outside of a home at 925 S. 14th St. in Niles. Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

Niles City Police take a break after searching a home for signs of animal cruelty at 925 S. 14th St. in Niles. Leader photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

A Niles man is facing preliminary charges of animal cruelty and exceeding the city’s limit of cats after police found a dead kitten and several cats on his property at 925 S. 14th St. in Niles.

Det. Chad Mitchell, of Niles City Police, said the homeowner was taken into custody Friday morning. Mitchell said he would not release the name of the man until he is arraigned, possibly today.

Melissa Spurlock, a neighbor living next door to the home, called police Thursday evening after she found a kitten “in bad shape” in her driveway.

Spurlock said she knew it came from her neighbor’s home because she’s seen lots of cats at the property over the years. She described the neighbors as cat hoarders.

Mitchell said police arrived Thursday night to find a dead cat on the property and a strong smell of feces and urine coming from inside the home.

Attempts to make contact with the occupants were unsuccessful, so police were forced to leave.

Mitchell said they returned Friday morning with a warrant to search the home. Niles City Fire and Code Enforcement assisted.

When authorities searched the home, six cats were found, including a number of kittens.

All were alive, but Mitchell said they were in poor condition. A dog, described in decent condition, was also seized.

Authorities wore protective white coveralls and masks to protect their skin and clothes from the conditions inside. Mitchell said the inside was unsanitary, with feces and urine everywhere.

“It’s probably the worst I’ve ever seen,” he said.

City residents are allowed a maximum of four cats.

Next-door neighbor Tammy Pressler said they’ve had problems with both cats and smells coming from the property for several years.

“Sick cats will come wandering over,” she said. “The stench is disgusting. You can’t even walk up to our fence line without getting sick. We put bleach on our steps once a year because it blocks the smell when you open up the front door.”

Mitchell said animal control had removed cats from the property in the past.

Police and animal control are currently working to remove any animals on the property. Mitchell said they would set live traps to catch any other animals they might have missed.

Animals seized are being checked out by veterinarians.