WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (WMC) - On Friday, more than 20 cats were getting check ups and vaccinations at the West Memphis Animal Shelter. This comes after 60 of them were rescued from inside a 10x20 storage building in West Memphis.
"You can only imagine in space that tight with no ventilation the conditions were certainly not good," said West Memphis Animal Services Director Kerry Facello.
Facello says it all started over a year ago after the cats' owner passed away. Her relatives decided to step in and take care of the cats.
"It just continued to spiral a bit out of control to the point where they had 60 cats that they were attempting to take care of," said Facello.
Facello says at first the cats were being cared for inside a home, but when the number kept growing. They were placed in a storage building on the property. There they were fed and had access to water, but no real medical treatment. Many of the cats have breathing, eye and skin issues.
"When any living creature lives in an environment were the ammonia level is so high and it's potentially lethal it does significant damage to the airway, the respiratory system of that animal," said Facello.
This case, now referred to as "Operation Paradise," will not lead to any charges, according to Facello. She says the family tried reaching out to a number of organizations for help. West Memphis Animal Shelter answered the call.
"You have a family that attempts to do the right thing and then they reach out for help and as they're reaching out for help the problem intensifies. They can't be penalized," said Facello.
Rescuers will take in and assess more cats over the weekend. The cats need to be vetted before they can be placed up for adoption.
"We want these pets to know nothing but paradise from this point forward. That's our mission, that's our goal and that's what we're going to achieve," said Facello.
The West Memphis Animal Shelter will continue posting updates about “Operation Paradise” to Facebook.
If you would like to help you can contact the shelter at 870-732-7599.