The number of cats seized from a Florida sanctuary that was told to limit their numbers and is now under investigation for animal neglect has jumped from the 517 we reported yesterday to an all time national high of 671.
The well coordinated seizure from Haven Acres cat sanctuary in High Springs FL that we reported yesterday in Massive 517 Cat Seizure Brings National Organizations to High Springs FL Sanctuary has continued, and is now the largest such operation involving cats ever conducted in the US. The operation took place over two days, on June 7 and 8.
A large air conditioned warehouse has been set up to house the cats while they are evaluated by veterinarians as the county’s animal services agency waits to obtain authorization to assume ownership of the animals, some of which will be dispersed across the country with the help of volunteers from United Animal Nations.
Several organizations, agencies and vererinary service parties have cooperated to make this a very efficiently conducted raid and transfer, where the cats were placed in carriers and removed to the special facility set up to receive them.
The current neglect investigation was triggered when an Alachua County animal services representative recently reported finding a dead cat in a cage and seeing some sick cats. While we initially wondered whether most cats were healthy and well cared-for, today’s seizure update from animal Services Director David Flagler tells of a facility that appeared very nice on the surface but was very different behind the scenes.
In reference to area residents who brought cats to the sanctuary and are now expressing concern, Mr Flagler says, in the Gainsville Sun, “They thought they were taking their cats to a country club environment, and even some of our own staff thought the conditions were much better than what was found. We are going to do everything we can to give these people a chance to get their cats back because, obviously, they saw the best side of that program.”
It is reported that, from initial observation, some cats seem healthy and alert while others have respiratory infections, eye problems, missing ears and parts of their mouths, and badly matted fur.
The local code enforcement officer who visited the sanctuary some months back says conditions have meanwhile worsened, while Edgemoor resident Dana Stubblefield says local and county agencies bear some responsibility for either not paying enough attention to the situation or for looking the other way.
Owner Penny Lefkowitz says she had complied with an order to reduce the number of cats on the property but the spring influx of cats brought the number back up.
We will continue to follow the story as it develops.
HSUS video from the seizure