70 cats taken from hoarder's house in Daleville

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MUNCIE (WTHR) - At the Muncie Animal Shelter Wednesday, it was a busy day in the hallway.

A steady stream of people bringing in cat food and other supplies. The shelter was hit with the biggest inundation of cats they can remember.

Inside the clinic, kittens just a day old were reunited with their nursing mother. One day after staff in hazmat gear rescued them and almost 70 more cats from a Daleville house. The animals were discovered after the woman who lived there died.

"I just can't believe they pulled that many cats out," said one neighbor, Nick Powell.

Two other adults were living in the house, plus a 10-year-old child who is now in protective custody.

"Every square inch of the home was covered with feces and urine. Was just horribly sad," said Phil Peckinpaugh, superintendent of the animal shelter.

Thirty more cats are still in the garage. They'll be back for them Thursday.

"It was the most overpowering smell of ammonia I've ever smelled. Mix that with the stale air that's in there," Peckinpaugh said.

He says it's the worst cat hoarding he's seen in his career here. Though the cats were well fed, he says, and generally healthy.

Peckinpaugh says he feels badly for the humans who were living in those conditions. The residents are cooperating with animal control and he doesn't expect his agency to file any charges.

"Never knew there were that many cats there. We've seen a couple out in the yard now and then," Powell said.

Neighbors say the family in the house mostly kept to themselves, but "you could really smell it when they open the doors and the windows."

We're told the owners fed the cats until a couple of days ago, when the food and the money ran out.

Wednesday evening, cats were getting vaccines and physicals. At least half of the females are pregnant.

They're all getting names, too.

The shelter is taking all the donated food and supplies they can get. They say they are already in a budget crisis and wonder what they're going to do for money now.

The rescued cats won't be ready for adoption for at least another day.

The Muncie Animal Shelter is located at 2401 South Gharkey Street in Muncie and is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

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