Million-dollar rescue finished at FLOCK site

Million-dollar rescue finished at FLOCK site

Originally published on February 13, 2008

By CHRISTINA EICHELKRAUT
PVT

The recent rescue operation at the For Love of Cats and Kittens sanctuary, on Bond Street, was “the single largest recorded hoarding case and subsequent rescue of cats ever in the United States,” according to Patti Broun of the Information Sciences Institute at the University of Southern California.

The cats were discovered last July with little shelter available to protect them from the summer heat on two-and-a-half acres of feces-covered brush and dirt.

The majority were starving, dehydrated, sick, or all of the above.

The final tally given by Broun for the number of cats recorded at the facility is staggering.

According to Broun, who volunteered extensively during the operation, 748 cats were microchipped, photographed, vaccinated and catalogued during the course of the rescue.

Of those, 64 died due to health complications.

On the bright side, many of the cats found new, loving homes thanks to a number of adoption events held here and in Las Vegas by the Best Friends Animal Society, the rescue group called in by Nye County Animal Control to take over the situation after it was discovered.

But the rescue wasn’t cheap and the majority of the tab was picked up by Best Friends.

According to Broun, to date the cost of the rescue is just a little over $1 million, including close to $240,000 for veterinarian and animal hospital bills.

The last 53 cats, recently transported to the Best Friends sanctuary in Kenab, Utah, have accrued an additional $53,000 in medical expenses.

Donations for the project throughout the course of the rescue have totaled a little over $300,000.

Best Friends workers, assisted by volunteers Broun said came from all over the country, literally camped out at the sanctuary and began cleaning the facility and fencing it into more manageable segments.

They also began feeding, treating, and micro chipping the animals.

After a few months, adoption events were held and many of the cats were placed in new homes, and several cats that had been lost years ago were returned to their grateful owners.

Margaret Ward, current president of FLOCK, said the nonprofit corporation is still reeling from the effects of the debacle but will continue working for animals from its base in Las Vegas.

“We’re taking it a day at a time,” Ward said. “I won’t say we’ll never have a sanctuary again, but for now we’re just taking it slow.”

Ward said at the moment the organization is focusing on adoption, spaying and neutering strays, veterinarian care for street cats, and foster care for kittens.

The Bond Street sanctuary, which was temporarily leased to Nye County Animal Control for as long as cats were treated at the facility, will revert back to FLOCK.

Ward, however, said most likely the property would be put up for sale and the organization would not attempt to reopen a sanctuary.

The FLOCK executive board said former President Sherri Allen was responsible for the condition of the cats, saying she began taking in more cats than she and sanctuary volunteers could handle and becoming overwhelmed.

Allen has continually maintained she informed the board of her resignation on May 30, 2006, and left behind a clean sanctuary with healthy cats.

Although Allen was later arrested for over 100 counts of animal cruelty for the condition of her own personal animals, she has yet to be charged by the district attorney’s office for either incident.

FLOCK also has not to date been formally charged.

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