More than 60 cats, kittens found in DC house

WASHINGTON — A real estate agent checking on a property in Northwest D.C. Tuesday night found some unwelcome guests in the house: two women who were staying there illegally — and their 63 cats and kittens.

The Washington Humane Society-Washington Animal Rescue League was called to the house in the 800 block of Decatur Street Northwest and recovered 44 of the cats and kittens. The condition of the house was described as “deplorable” by Lisa LaFontaine, president and CEO of WHS-WARL.

Feces was all over the house “inside and outside of litter boxes,” and many of the cats and kittens had upper respiratory infections and were underweight.

“This is an extreme case of hoarding and inhumane treatment of animals,” LaFontaine said in a statement.

Scott Giacoppo, chief community animal welfare officer at WHS-WARL, says the two women left the property with 20 of the cats — it’s not clear whether they’ll be allowed to keep them.

It is also unclear what charges the pair could face.

“It would probably be a neglect case — we’re still looking into it; it’s an active case. We’re working with the owners and we’re evaluating the cats,” Giacoppo said.

The sudden influx of cats, many of whom need medical treatment for their infections, is taxing the facilities of WHS-WARL. Twenty-seven of the kittens are less than a month old and at that age need constant care.

Giacoppo says that on a typical day, five to 10 cats may come in to the shelters.

“But gosh, we got 44 in [on Tuesday night]! We’re always jostling for cage space,” Giacoppo said.

The incident comes just days before the organization launches its Clear the Shelters event on Saturday. Adoption fees will be waived so that qualified adopters can take a pet home. Giacoppo says the just-recovered cats and kittens will need homes, but they won’t be available for adoption until they can get a thorough health and behavioral assessment.

Giacoppo says people can help by coming in and looking over the animals already available at WHS-WARL.

“We need empty cages. We need the community to help us out by coming down and adopting,” Giacoppo said.

The event will be held July 23 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Both WHS-WARL adoption centers — at Oglethorpe Street Northwest and at New York Avenue Northeast — will be open for the program.

The Washington Humane Society — Washington Animal Rescue League has teamed up with WTOP’s television partner, NBC Washington, to host the second annual Clear the Shelters nationwide pet adoption drive.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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