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Morgan Hill
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August 14, 2020

Animal shelter crowded after ‘extreme’ cat hoarding bust

In the wake of an

extreme

bust occurring Friday that revealed an estimated 80 to 100 cats
were hoarded in a non-residential facility in San Martin, the Santa
Clara County Animal Shelter has skyrocketed into feline
overload.
In the wake of an “extreme” bust occurring Friday that revealed an estimated 80 to 100 cats were hoarded in a non-residential facility in San Martin, the Santa Clara County Animal Shelter has skyrocketed into feline overload.

The discovery was made Sept. 1 following complaints of a pungent odor surrounding the facility in San Martin, according to Albert Escobar, program manager for Santa Clara County Animal Care and Control.

“It wasn’t actually a person’s home,” said Escobar, who described the hoarder as an elderly man. “He had these cats in an alternative location in San Martin.”

The county animal shelter, located at 12370 Murphy Ave., is already beyond capacity, but they took in 40 of the rescued cats Friday.

Escobar, who worked as an animal control officer for 10 years before he became program manager, said he has encountered instances such as this in the past, “but to this degree, probably only once before … I’ve had nothing to this extreme.”

Escobar said animal hoarding is a citable offense, but “what we’re trying to do is get cooperation to help the guy with his problem also.”

The shelter can comfortably accommodate 50 adoption-ready cats. It also offers another 50 spaces for incoming cats that are initially put into quarantine upon arrival.

However, “we’re all ready well over that. We’re double that,” said shelter Supervisor Brigid Wasson.

Prior to the surprise cache of cats, Wasson said their facility was already housing 160, until the count shot upward Friday when 40 rescued felines were brought in from the undisclosed location in San Martin.

The bump in house guests couldn’t have come at a worse time, she said.

“It’s the end of summer. It’s kitten season. The shelter is already at maximum capacity for cats. The adoption room is full; the intake rooms are full. We’ve had to set up an emergency housing out back to cater to these additional animals,” she said by phone Tuesday.

Wasson said her crew of volunteers are bracing for an additional 40 to 60 new whiskered faces, which will arrive at the shelter in waves over the next few weeks as spots become available.

“The first group that we took were the most critical to get out of there, as far as needing medical care and attention,” said Escobar, who said no police reports or criminal charges have been filed. He also said a number of rescued cats have been placed in homes.

When asked if the elderly man has been compliant with officers, Escobar emphasized the sensitivity of the investigation: “my officers have been trained in this kind of stuff. They can convey the point they’re there to help him, not just the animals.”

Wasson adds, “a lot of the rescued cats are in good condition. The person was doing the best he could, but some of them are ill. But a lot of them are friendly and relatively healthy.”

Both Wasson and Escobar stress an urgent need for food and toy donations, monetary support and people who are willing to take home adoption-ready cats, which will make more room for incoming rescues. For more information, visit www.sccgov.org.

A number of the rescued cats have also gone to Town Cats in Morgan Hill, a “no-kill feline adoption center and feral cat advocacy organization serving Santa Clara County,” according to the organization’s website. Visit Town Cats at www.towncats.org.

Check back soon for an update to this story and more details.

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