SANTA ANA (CBS) — A family is facing felony charges for hoarding 110 cats in their home in what animal service workers are calling “deplorable” conditions.
They lived surrounded by feces and filth in an uncertified cat shelter.
“This is, by far, the worst hoarding situation I’ve ever dealt with — just the magnitude of the filth,” said Sondra Berg, an animal service worker who was called to inspect the situation.
Santa Ana animal service workers were notified by neighbors that a foul odor was coming from the house. They arrived to find owner Sharon Lynn Howe, 65, and her husband John Ed Howe, 68, in a shocking state.
“She had cat feces from the knees down, covering her legs and feet.”
Inside, there was urine and feces smeared all over the carpet, furniture and walls. The home was infested with fleas and cockroaches and covered in cat hair.
The Howes’ two daughters also lived there, one with her boyfriend, along with their two young granddaughters.
“One of the girls slept on a couch in the living room. It was covered in feces and urine.”
Officers needed to wear haz-mat gear to enter the home.
“We were just overpowered within just a few minutes because the ammonia levels were so high in there that we couldn’t breathe.”
Last February, two girls, six and 12 years old, were rescued from the deplorable living conditions, along with all the cats.
Twenty of the cats were in such poor health that they had to be euthanized and the rest were nursed back to health.
The five relatives were charged with felony child endangerment and animal cruelty charges.
If found guilty the family could be sentenced to probation or up to eight years in prison.