SAN ANTONIO – Two dozen cats are now in the hands of Animal Care Services where they are being examined by veterinarians after being seized Thursday from a woman with two previous cases in 2007 and 2015, totaling more than 130 cats.
ACS reports the first involved about 50 cats from a house the landlord later demolished, and 57 more from her current house on the Northeast Side two years ago.
Shannon Sims, assistant director for ACS, said this was an example of chronic animal hoarding.
“It’s not a conscious choice a lot of these folks are making in trying to hold all these animals,” Sims said. “It’s something that you need to go and get help for.”
But, D’Ann Trethan, 70, said although she gets overwhelmed at times, “I am not a hoarder. I am a rescue person that loves and care for animals.”
Trethan said she nightly feeds 150 feral cats, so if she was a hoarder, “I’d have all 150 in my house.”
She said rescues cats that have been injured, shot at or even poisoned, then gets them veterinary care, and tries to find them homes.
Trethan said she’s been trying to clean up her Northeast side home, but ACS didn’t give her enough time.
After officers weren't allowed to re-inspect the house, ACS left a final notice of violation in the door on Wednesday.
The warrant to seize the animal’s states they also were not provided proof of veterinary care.
“The conditions appear to have regressed with no improvements,” the warrant reads. “These animals are confined in cruel conditions with an excess amount of urine and feces throughout the home, deprived of necessary veterinary care, and clean sanitary shelter.”
The warrant also states, “Without intervention these animals will continue to suffer living in these conditions that could result in illness and possible death.”
When Trethan wouldn’t open her front door Thursday morning, ACS officers had to ram their way in.
But before entering, officers put on respirators because of the ammonia levels in the home.
Sims said the levels weren’t as high as they were in 2015, but still those conditions aren’t suitable for cats or humans.
“People always tell me, ‘I don’t know if you can smell it. You must be used to it,’’ she said. “But no, I smell it.”
Trethan said she and her husband stay in the house, sleeping on cots.
Sims said although the cats looked healthy and well-fed, they will be examined for possible respiratory problems due to continued exposure to ammonia.
An ACS spokeswoman said investigators will take everything into account before deciding whether to pursue felony animal cruelty charges.
Trethan said she has a court date next week in Municipal Court where she’ll fight to keep the cats that were taken Thursday.