Cats FLOCK to Utah sanctuary

Cats FLOCK to Utah sanctuary

Originally published on February 6, 2008

great kitty rescue cat joker and best friends animal sanctuary employee tammy rolfe
CHRISTINA EICHELKRAUT / PVT
Tammy Rolfe, adoption coordinator for Best Friends Animal Society, reaches in to give Joker the cat some company. Joker is one of the last 57 cats that were shipped to the Best Friends sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, last Friday, ending a six-month-long rescue operation.

By CHRISTINA EICHELKRAUT
PVT

Six months ago over 400 cats and kittens were found in dire condition in the summer heat at the former For Love of Cats and Kittens sanctuary located on Bond Street.

Since then, thanks to the efforts of volunteers and the Best Friends Animal Society, most of the cats have been treated when necessary and adopted into loving homes.

And last Friday, the first day of February, saw the last 57 cats packed up into a climate-controlled, specially-shelved truck and taken to their new home at the Best Friends Animal Society sanctuary in Kanab, Utah.

Back in July, when the cats were first discovered on a couple of acres of mostly brush and dirt, most of the animals were starving, sick, dehydrated, or all of the above, living in their own filth at a facility that belied its name of “sanctuary.”

Since there were so many of them, Nye County Animal Control officers called in the Best Friends Animal Society for some help with the situation.

With generous help, donations and community volunteers, the animal society quickly set up camp (literally living in RVs parked outside the facility) and got to work cleaning the facility and rescuing the cats.

Fencing was brought in, parceling out the acres into more manageable segments.

Meanwhile the cats were captured, checked, inoculated, treated for everything from upper respiratory syndrome to ringworm, and perhaps most importantly, fed and loved.

Several cats were identified as missing family pets and returned to their owners.

In addition, adoption events were held (both in Las Vegas and locally) and many of the cats found new families.

The 57 cats sitting sheltered in one of the sanctuary’s hutches were patiently waiting to be taken to their new home.

“Many are being worked with for social issues, we’re socializing them,” Shelly Thayer, project specialist for Best Friends explained.

Although the cats are getting settled into their new home, there are still a number of loose ends regarding the facility.

The question of who is responsible for the condition in which the cats were originally found, for one, has yet to be answered.

The executive board of FLOCK pointed a finger at Sherri Allen, who they said became overwhelmed by taking in too many cats and losing control over the facility.

Allen, on the other hand, said she notified the board of her resignation on May 30, 2006, and left a clean sanctuary with cats in good condition.

The cats were found approximately four weeks later.

Allen has not yet been charged by the district attorney’s office for her possible involvement in the FLOCK debacle, although she has been arrested and booked on over 100 counts of animal cruelty for the condition her personal pets that were found at her residence.

She has not been charged for that incident either, but is embroiled in a legal battle with Channel 3, Best Friends, and the Las Vegas news station’s parent company as a result of the incident.

A friend of Allen’s sent video footage to Channel 3 showing Allen’s animals being seized, ostensibly to show the cats were in fact being kept in good condition.

The news channel, however, spliced that footage together with footage from the FLOCK sanctuary, resulting in Allen suing for defamation after a cease and desist letter was ignored.

Allen alleged the video clip played by the news station gave the impression she was being arrested for her involvement with FLOCK, not because of her own personal animals.

Channel 3, its parent company, and Best Friends all joined together in filing a motion to dismiss Allen’s case.

The case is still in juducial limbo.

As for the facility on Bond Street, the property was leased to Nye County Animal Control for as long as cats were being treated at the facility.

Now that the kitties are cleared out, Tim McCarty, animal control supervisor, said the property would revert back to whoever is in charge at FLOCK.

Ultimately, however, McCarty said the future of the property would be determined by the district attorney’s office and the courts.

Should FLOCK decide to use the property as a sanctuary again, they would require a permit from the county, McCarty said.

And thanks to Title 17, code enforcement would subject the facility to random searches and visits.

Prior to that legislation, McCarty said, there were no standards for animal control to enforce.

For the cats who survived, at least, the ordeal is over.

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