Foreclosure Horror: Home Filled With Dead Pets

27 01 2011

This blog post is being reprinted in its entirety from a story published on Yahoo.com. We want to warn you that parts of this post are extremely graphic and while we appreciate the fact that some may not be able to read the entire story, we ask that this post be shared far and wide to bring futher attention to the ever growing problem of pet hoarding.

SEATTLE (Reuters) – Police on Monday arrested an elderly woman and her son on charges of animal cruelty for the starvation deaths of over 30 pets, mostly cats, whose decayed carcasses were found in their foreclosed home north of Seattle.

The remains of 29 cats and two dogs, some of which had been dead for six months and were skeletonized, were discovered on Friday strewn about the vacant home littered with animal feces, empty beer cans and trash. Three surviving but emaciated cats also were found amid the squalor.

Dennis Taylor, the police chief of Granite Falls, Washington, 40 miles northeast of Seattle, said authorities were alerted by a worker who had gone to the house to change the locks and reported a “horrible odor” coming from inside.

“There were enough beer cans to build a whole car,” Taylor said. “Hundreds and hundreds.”

The police chief said the woman, who apparently slept for months in one room covered with pet feces, told him she had attempted to care for the animals, “but there’s no evidence.”

“For me, it’s absolute neglect. They said they didn’t have money, but they didn’t have a reasonable explanation for the treatment of these animals. They apparently had enough for beer and cigarettes,” Taylor told Reuters.

The former homeowner, Diane Cowling, 65, and her son, Michael Cowling, 36, were taken into custody at an apartment they had recently moved to in nearby Lake Stevens. Each was charged with 34 counts of felony animal cruelty, an offense punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Police also seized a pet dog and two cats the Cowlings had with them at the time and turned them over to an animal shelter.

Taylor said the pair had told him the mother was employed but suffered from various medical problems.

Workers from a pet rescue and animal sanctuary assisted police in removing animal remains from the foreclosed home over the weekend, filling several black plastic garbage bags.

Cowling told TV station KOMO News in Seattle that she had been undergoing radiation therapy, was constantly exhausted and thought the animals died from a massive flea infestation in the house. After her pets died, she said she lost the will to remove their bodies.

(Editing by Steve Gorman and Jerry Norton)

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