At the eleventh hour as the final boards on an abandoned Chicago home were being put up Tuesday cats and kittens were still being rescued.
Chicago’s Animal Care and Control employees worked with volunteers up until the last minute donning full hazmat gear to check for any stragglers still trapped inside. In total, 109 cats were removed during the exhaustive clean-up and rescue.
Workers said they could only remain inside the ‘deplorable’ conditions of the house on the 6200 block of West Roscoe for about five minutes at a time because the smell was so overwhelming.
Neighbors say the man who lived in the home was evicted months ago but kept returning to feed the cats.
“Nobody wants to see this,” one neighbor, Terri Barreras told NBC Chicago. “It's a horrendous condition.”
While the neighborhood is certainly relieved the ordeal has finally been handled, now local shelters are desperately in need of help caring for the more than 100 cats that are now in their care.
The hoarding situation came to a head in July when surrounding residents could no longer take the unbearable stench permeating from the home.
“Talking to the neighbors just east, their children have not come outside all summer because of the smells and flies,” Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th) told NBC Chicago. “It was just a bad situation.”
Local rescue groups, such as Tree House Humane Society and Paws Chicago, have volunteered to take as many cats as possible into their already crowded shelters.
“This is unprecedented,” Tree House Humane Society volunteer Liz Houtz said. “This is the largest hoarding project that I’ve personally worked on.”
More than half of the rescued cats – 56 to be exact – have been transported to Tree House where they're being sprayed, neutered and vaccinated.
The once nameless cats now have names and are being nursed back to health for adoption or fostering. Donations have been pouring in, but shelters say they'll need even more to care.
“For any organization to absorb so many animals, it's just overwhelming,” Houtz said.
Area shelters like Tree House need cat food, cat litter, dog crates and monetary donations.
Tree House is one of our participating organizations in NBC 5 and Telemundo Chicago's push to Clear The Shelters this Saturday. For more information, visit here.