KILLEEN, Tex. (KBTX)- Authorities found 40 dead animals in a Killeen home from which 200 cats and kittens were removed, The Humane Society of the United States said in a tweet.
“In addition to the nearly 200 we rescued, we had to remove around 40 animals found dead in the freezer,” The Humane Society of the United States said in a tweet Tuesday.
The rescued animals are housed in a temporary shelter, HSUS officials said.
“The animals we saved are now receiving urgent, round-the-clock care from veterinarians, and a clean, comfortable place to sleep in our temporary shelter.”
“We will soon begin identifying and working with placement partners to make plans to transport animals to shelter and rescue groups that can continue to treat them and to place them up for adoption into new, loving homes,” the HSUS said.
Animal control officers found the cats and kittens living in “deplorable" conditions Friday in a 1,800-square-foot home in a Killeen neighborhood whose residents were apparently operating a cat rescue.
In a Facebook post, the Spark of Life Kitten Foster and Rescue said it was named in the search and seizure warrant because of “the recent number of kitten deaths we experienced” after dead kittens were taken to the Killeen Animal Shelter for cremation.
“We do not believe in throwing kittens in trash cans and it is illegal to bury pets in the city limits,” the post said.
“While we admit to being overcrowded, we have never intentionally put an animal in harm’s way.”
Complaints from residents led to the discovery of the cats in the home in the 3600 block of Foxglove Lane where clean water for the animals was lacking and litter boxes were overflowing, officials said.
Search and seizure warrants were served at around 7 a.m. Friday at the home.
With help from Humane Society of the United States representatives, the cats, which were found living in stacked crates and cages, were being removed to a temporary emergency shelter where veterinarians were examining them.
Many of the animals are suffering from upper respiratory conditions, officials said.
Officers also found about 10 dogs in the home.
“It is heartbreaking to see hundreds of gentle cats and kittens suffering in poor conditions,” said Nikki Prather, Texas state director for the Humane Society of the United States.
“We are thankful to the City of Killeen for answering the call to help these animals.”
Caron Trout who used the makeshift foster house when she was homeless says it was the homeowner's unwillingness to turn people away that led to the number of cats.
"It was your big heart that got you overwhelmed and I hope justice is served because you don’t deserve to be painted like a monster because you are not."
The residents didn’t resist the investigation and told officials they started out to foster cats but were overwhelmed.
“We hope these animals will be adopted into loving homes once their immediate needs are addressed,” Killeen Animal Services manager Tammy Roberts said.
“The property owners have been cooperative—we often see in similar situations that it appears those responsible for the care of a high quantity of animals become overwhelmed," she said.
“We are cooperating fully because our concern has always been for the safety and welfare of the cats,” Spark of Life said in the Facebook post.
“If we are not providing adequate care, then we should not be a rescue.”