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Nearly 50 cats rescued from Washington State hoarding case

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The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) announced on Thursday that nearly 50 cats have been rescued from a hoarding situation in Ritzville, Washington. According to the HSUS, several organizations collaborated to rescue forty-eight cats and kittens from a home in Adams County, Washington. The Ritzville Police Department requested assistance from both local and national groups for this large-scale cat rescue.

The collaborative effort included the HSUS, Everett Animal Shelter, Homeward Pet, King County Animal Services, Blue Mountain Humane, Pasado’s Safe Haven, PAWS, Purrfect Pals, Skagit Valley Humane, and SpokAnimal. The owner of the cats agreed to surrender her animals and representatives from each of these organizations assisted authorities with the rescue and removal of the animals.

Dan Paul, the Washington state director for The HSUS, stated: “The collaboration between national and local groups in Ritzville today has saved numerous lives. We're grateful to the Ritzville Police Department and all of the local rescue groups for stepping up to help these cats.”

Some of the rescued cats were suffering from minor health issues. A few of the cats also appear to be pregnant.
The Ritzville Police were appreciative of the collaborative effort. “I am very thankful for the cooperation and assistance provided to our department in dealing with this issue,” stated Chief of Police David McCormick. “The individuals that showed up to assist us are very caring professionals and we are grateful for their assistance.”

The rescued animals were taken to the local rescue groups, where they will receive veterinary assessments and treatment, as necessary. Afterward, the cats will be available for adoption.

According to the HSUS, animal hoarding entails having more than the typical number of companion animals, an inability to provide even minimal standards of care, and denial of the inability to provide the minimum of care. The HSUS states that there are nearly 250,000 victims of animal hoarding each year. Animal hoarding is animal cruelty. Sadly, victims of animal hoarding suffer because this abuse differs from other types of animal cruelty: the perpetrators don't always accept or recognize the cruelty that they inflict on their animals.

Washington state has strong animal cruelty laws to protect animals from abuse and neglect. Animal cruelty in the second degree (RCW 16.52.207) states:

(1) A person is guilty of animal cruelty in the second degree if, under circumstances not amounting to first degree animal cruelty, the person knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence inflicts unnecessary suffering or pain upon an animal.

(2) An owner of an animal is guilty of animal cruelty in the second degree if, under circumstances not amounting to first degree animal cruelty, the owner knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence:
(a) Fails to provide the animal with necessary shelter, rest, sanitation, space, or medical attention and the animal suffers unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain as a result of the failure;
(b) Under circumstances not amounting to animal cruelty in the second degree under (c) of this subsection, abandons the animal; or
(c) Abandons the animal and (i) as a result of being abandoned, the animal suffers bodily harm; or (ii) abandoning the animal creates an imminent and substantial risk that the animal will suffer substantial bodily harm.

(3) Animal cruelty in the second degree is a gross misdemeanor.

(4) In any prosecution of animal cruelty in the second degree under subsection (1) or (2)(a) of this section, it shall be an affirmative defense, if established by the defendant by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant's failure was due to economic distress beyond the defendant's control.