County vows to press animal cruelty charges

County vows to press animal cruelty charges

flock compound great kitty rescue in pahrump nv
Credit Troy Snow

Originally published on July 25, 2007

By CHRISTINA EICHELKRAUT
PVT

For the Love of Cats and Kittens, or FLOCK, claimed to be a sanctuary for hundreds of feral cats.

But as Nye County Animal Control authorities discovered last week, it was anything but a safe place for felines, feral or domestic.

Four hundred sick, infected and starving cats were found last week at the “sanctuary,” located at 2171 E. Bond St., near the end of Homestead Road.

The cats were kept on two and a half acres, with nothing on it but brush and dirt, in a group of open cat rooms, none of which had any coolers.

A 12-foot high, barbed-wire-topped fence kept the cats on the premises. Most were either dehydrated, starving or both, according to investigators.

Nye County is currently looking into FLOCK’s previous president, Sheri Allen, who was in charge of the facility last year, when the organization moved from Las Vegas to Pahrump.

FLOCK’s new president, Maggie Ward, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Allen didn’t let volunteers into the facility and changed the locks every two weeks.

Ward said this is part of the reason the group didn’t realize just how horrendous conditions at the facility were until about a month ago when a FLOCK volunteer tipped off Nye County Animal Control.

“We had no idea, no idea how bad it was,” Ward told Channel 8 News in Las Vegas. “I was stunned for one thing — in shock, and we just left in tears.”

Allen reportedly said she was falsely accused, had poured thousands of dollars of her own money into the facility and was currently in the process of retaining legal counsel.

Animal control authorities said that the facility is still under investigation and they do not know against whom animal cruelty charges will be filed.

Once animal control authorities had ownership of the cats signed over to them, the county enlisted the help of Best Friends Animal Society in Las Vegas to treat and attempt to save the animals.

The animal society, which is based in Utah and has led many animal rescue efforts in the wake of natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, has agreed to stay on the premises and medicate and help the felines.

Staff members estimate that this could take up to three months and ultimately cost up to $500,000.

The smell of urine and feces, combined with an infestation of flies, however, meant that first the entire place had to be bleached and power-washed before volunteers could even enter the facility to begin working.

Seventy-five percent of the cats, in addition to being starved and dehydrated, are battling eye and respiratory infections.

One cat reportedly is missing an eye. The infected wound had maggots crawling out of it when rescuers arrived.

At last report, only three cats had died since the discovery last week.

Best Friends is in dire need of volunteers and donations for their ongoing efforts to save the cats and put them up for adoption.

The cats particularly need donations of canned Friskies (to help rehydrate them), large and small metal bowls, and large or small hard-sided animal carriers, appropriate for airline travel.

The volunteers could also use some help while they hunt for cats to help (many of them are hiding in the bushes, the exact number is yet unknown), including Gatorade, bottled water, fly strips and live traps.

Monetary donations, in the form of Wal-Mart gift cards for miscellaneous purchases needed during the course of rescue operations, are also appreciated.

Anyone interested in volunteering (no previous cat experience required; just a willingness to work hard and endure the heat) is urged to contact Tiffani Hill, a Best Friends staff member, on her cell phone at (805) 698-5959.

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