‘Shock­ing’ an­i­mal cru­elty in­ves­ti­ga­tion un­der­way

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - LIAM CASEY

BEAMSVILLE — On­tario’s an­i­mal wel­fare or­ga­ni­za­tion says a hoard­ing is­sue may have con­trib­uted to a sit­u­a­tion at an aban­doned ru­ral prop­erty where lo­cal res­cue groups say they’ve found dozens of cats, both dead and alive.

The On­tario So­ci­ety for the Pre­ven­tion of Cru­elty to An­i­mals said it is in the midst of an an­i­mal cru­elty probe, which be­gan in De­cem­ber, in­volv­ing a home and a barn in Beamsville, in the Ni­a­gara Re­gion.

No charges have been laid in the case, but the OSPCA said it has been work­ing with a woman who they said used to rent the home on the prop­erty.

“It did ap­pear to be a hoard­ing sit­u­a­tion,” spokesper­son Ali­son Cross said Mon­day. “We were there, feed­ing an­i­mals, go­ing back daily, ad­dress­ing any con­cerns of an­i­mals that might have been ap­pear­ing — they are roam­ing out­side, so it’s not easy to find them all.”

The woman who lived on the prop­erty may also have been col­lect­ing dead an­i­mals “from road­kill and other things,” and putting them in bar­rels that have been found at the site, Cross said.

Lo­cal an­i­mal res­cue or­ga­ni­za­tions re­cently be­came in­volved in ef­forts to care for cats found alive on the prop­erty.

Pam Hu­son, owner of Beamsville 4Paw Res­cue, was one of the groups in­volved.

“It was a night­mare,” she said of the prop­erty, not­ing that cats had over­run it.

Hu­son said her or­ga­ni­za­tion saved about 70 cats from the site and another group, Pro­ject Save A Cat’s Life, said it res­cued about 30 cats.

Dead cats were found inside the home near win­dows and doors, which were rid­dled with scratch marks, Hu­son said.

“The stench was so aw­ful that we were throw­ing up,” Hu­son said.

The groups also found the bodies of dead cats inside rain bar­rels on the prop­erty, Hu­son said.

“We fol­lowed the flies and the mag­gots and the birds and the stench and that led us to the bar­rels,” she said. “It was shock­ing.” In all, Hu­son said res­cue groups have counted 153 dead cats and four dead dogs found on the prop­erty so far.

The OSPCA said it was con­cerned that the res­cue groups may have tam­pered with ev­i­dence in its in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“We rec­og­nize the pas­sion be­hind the res­cue groups want­ing to help the an­i­mals, but when it comes to an in­ves­ti­ga­tion there is a process that has to be fol­lowed, or else you can jeop­ar­dize the in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” Cross said.

Hu­son said, how­ever, that she has of­fered all of her ev­i­dence from the prop­erty, from pho­to­graphs to ve­teri­nary re­ports to her own ac­counts, to OSPCA in­ves­ti­ga­tors who han­dling the case.

The cats that have been res­cued from the prop­erty are do­ing well af­ter be­ing treated for a va­ri­ety of ill­nesses and in­juries, she said, and are heal­ing in fos­ter homes.

“They’re happy, they’re cud­dly,” she said. “Af­ter the long week­end, we’re go­ing to have an adopt-a-thon.”

Hu­son says more than 100 cats have been saved from the prop­erty and are be­ing re­ha­bil­i­tated at fos­ter homes in the com­mu­nity.

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