A Greenacres woman was arrested for animal cruelty after 43 cats were found scampering around her home amid several feet of garbage and cat waste, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
Animal Care and Control officers had to don full-body suits and put on respirator masks before they entered the two-bedroom townhouse of Janna Howard in March. She was arrested Monday and faces 45 counts of animal cruelty, according to the newspaper.
Capt. David Walesky, who has been with Animal Care and Control for 17 years, told the Sun Sentinel: "This was absolutely the worst case we've seen to my knowledge from a human health and safety level.”
His agency removed the 43 living and two dead cats from Howard’s apartment on the 2700 block of 27th Lane on March 8 after emergency medical responders were called there, Walesky said. Howard, 60, was then hospitalized, the Sun Sentinel said.
In her first court appearance on Tuesday, a judge ordered Howard to have no animals and released her to the supervision of a social worker that said that an apartment had been lined up for her, the paper reported.
Hoarding is a mental health condition that is often tied to others such as depression, Marcia Pinck of the Mental Health Association of Southeast Florida told the Sun Sentinel.
Walesky said that most of the cats that were rescued could not be adopted because of a lack of interaction with people. Howard signed the cats over to Palm Beach County, but ultimately only six could be adopted. One cat died while with the animal care agency, and the rest were euthanized because they were suffering from severe upper respiratory infections after living in Howard’s home, Walesky said.