DES MOINES, Iowa (WOI) – ARL Animal Control Services and the ARL Mobile Rescue Team were on-site at a property on Des Moines’ west side on Wednesday assisting the Des Moines Police Department to rescue cats from another hoarding case.
So far 32 cats have been rescued and ARL officials continue to work to capture the rest. This is the fourth cat hoarding case the ARL has been involved within just 10 weeks, three of which have been in Des Moines.
“This is our 4th cat hoarding case in just 10 weeks, but it never gets easier and nothing prepares you for what you’re about to see,” said Tom Colvin, CEO for the ARL.
The ammonia from the cat urine made the air quality so poor that ARL rescuers had to wear protective suits and respirators in the near 90 degree temps. The home was stifling, with no air conditioning units – just a single fan in one window. But that was only the beginning. Every step they took sent clouds of fleas into the air. Cockroaches were everywhere: climbing up the walls, on countertops, and in the cats’ food. There were piles of garbage and cat feces throughout the entire house. When ARL rescuers emerged from the house they had to spray their entire bodies with insecticide because they were completely covered with fleas.
“It was bad for the ARL rescuers, but so much worse for the cats,” said Colvin. “The majority of the 36 rescued so far are kittens. All have severe upper respiratory infections, conjunctivitis, ear mites, and eyes that were crusted shut. They were all infested with fleas and many were severely underweight, with several suffering from anemia. But, one look at one of the smallest made our hearts sink. A 6 week-old kitten, who we named Baby, was severely anemic and so underweight he didn’t even weigh a pound. The fleas had literally sucked the life out of him and by the time help arrived, it was still too late. Despite our Miracle Medical Team’s best efforts to save him, there was nothing else we could do. Sadly, Baby died from severe blood loss due to flea infestation within hours of his rescue.”
Another older kitten had an untreated wound on her leg that was full of living maggots. She was also anemic and severely dehydrated. ARL workers immediately began administering IVs of fluids and antibiotics to treat her infection.
The ARL is seeking the public’s help with donations of dry cat food as well as monetary donations to help with their medical care. Donations can be made online or by mail/in-person at 5452 NE 22nd Street, Des Moines, IA 50313.