WASHINGTON — It was anything but the cat’s meow.
A Montgomery County, Maryland, woman has been charged with 128 counts of animal cruelty offenses after authorities rescued 125 cats and three rabbits from her two homes, police said Thursday.
The investigation started when officers looked into health conditions at Louise Prince’s North Potomac town house on Sweetbough Court in late June.
An Animal Services Officer responded to a report of a cat in distress at Prince’s residence on June 23. There, the officer found that the cat was not injured but became concerned due to the “strong” stench of ammonia, according to a news release.
Nobody answered the door when the officer knocked and there was no response to a note left by police.
Animal Services was eventually able to contact Prince, 62, by phone. She claimed she had eight cats and was out of town.
According to police, Prince’s animal head count was a severe understatement.
When an inspection was conducted July 14, police found the residence to be unsanitary, unsafe and was condemned as unfit for human habitation.
Officers spent the next two weeks removing 75 cats and one rabbit. All the animals were infested with fleas, scratching so much that it was causing hair loss.
On July 25, Animal Services learned that animals were also being held at Prince’s Silver Spring residence on Georgia Avenue.
After acting on a search warrant, police recovered 50 cats and two rabbits. Those animals were infested with fleas as well.
The cats and rabbits have since been moved to Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center in Derwood, where they are being treated. Authorities say they are now engaging in normal grooming behavior.
“Admittedly, this was a difficult case from the outset. The barriers and conditions including flea infestation and unsafe air quality in the town house on Sweetbough Court presented extraordinary challenges to our officers, whose performance was extraordinary in their efforts to safely remove the cats from this home,” Animal Services Division Director Thomas Koenig said in a news release.
“Now we are presented with the difficult challenge of adding 128 animals to our shelter operations, forcing us to make difficult choices based on limited resources.”
Officers with the Animal Services Division want the public to contact them at 301-279-8000 whenever there is concern about conditions and circumstances regarding animal housing or treatment.
If an animal’s life is in immediate danger, it is appropriate to call 911.