Kittens Recovering After Rescue From Freezer: Man Arrested

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Three 6 week old kittens are recovered and doing well at the Tampa Bay SPCA, in Largo, after bring rescued from a St. Petersburg, Florida man’s freezer on Sunday. A forth kitten did not survive.

Rodney J. Blanchard

Pinellas County deputies arrested Rodney J. Blanchard, 39, at his trailer park home on Sunday after they found four kittens in a freezer.  The kittens owe their lives to Eve Mulder, who fled the trailer and contacted authorities after she heard their cries when Blanchard asked her to get him a beer. Mulder opened the freezer and saw four distressed kittens in zip lock plastic sandwich bags. Mulder says Blanchard pushed her down as she attempted to rescue the kittens who were meowing from the freezer.

Mulder says Blanchard was trying to kill the kittens because their caregiver had been arrested and they were a bother. Blanchard told police he had put them in a “time out.” The investigation into the incident with the kittens led investigators to a connection with a double shooting that occurred the previous day.

It’s believed the kittens belong to Blanchard’s roommate Francis Bahr who was arrested along with Blanchard’s son, Damien, over the weekend. Bahr and Damien Blanchard are each facing two counts of Attempted First Degree Murder, accused of shooting a couple in front of a trailer, in a dispute over a lovers’ triangle.

Deputies rescued the kittens and rushed them to an emergency vet clinic. SPCA Officer Jill Purl says the quick action by the deputies saved the kittens, and  it’s likely the plastic baggies may have bought the kittens some time by insulating them and keeping them a bit warmer than the rest of the freezer and giving them a buffer zone from the cold items around them.

Martha Boden, CEO of the SPCA Tampa Bay, said of the kittens today, “They’ve gotten a lot of good sleep, which they needed and they seem to be quite warm and happy”. The three surviving kittens were initially slow to respond, but recovered quickly.  The fourth died from the cold. It is thought the kittens were only in the freezer for 10 minutes or so. By Tuesday, the three kittens were playing as though nothing was wrong.

The kittens will go to a foster caregiver but cannot be adopted until legal issues are resolved. The SPCA hopes that Bahr will give custody of the kittens over to the SPCA so that good homes can be found for them. The SPCA will take applications once the courts deal with the custody issue.

Mulder said Blanchard laughed in response when he realized she had found the kittens.  Blanchard was arrested on four counts of Animal Cruelty and one count of Battery for pushing Mulder.

Report on the kittens  being found in the freezer and Blanchard’s arrest.


Update on the kittens’ progress.


Report on the tie in with the shooting case.


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