While a somber or relaxing day off for many, Glynn County Animal Control spent much of Memorial Day dealing with a veritable house of horrors near the corner of Stonewall and J streets in Brunswick.
“I’ve been doing this for 35 years, and never seen anything like this,” said Tiffani Hill, animal control manager.
Hill and another animal control officer at the scene estimated at least 20 live cats had been in the white, two-story house when they arrived Monday just after lunch.
Upon attempting to enter the home, all but a handful escaped. It will likely take officers a week or more to catch them all, Hill said.
Animal control officers and volunteers found four deceased kittens upon further sweeps of the house.
The first attempt to catch the cats was not successful, Hill said, because of the feces, urine-soaked blankets, empty food containers and broken furniture blanketing every square inch of floor in the house.
From what Hill could see, however, all the living cats were in very poor condition.
Most appeared to Hill to be malnourished and one of the three cats animal control managed to catch was missing both of its eyes, most likely due to an infection.
Due to the conditions in the house, she said it was likely they were all suffering from some form of infection and respiratory problems. It’s possible some may have been pregnant.
Animal control officers wouldn’t let anyone in without a full-body protective gear, but one didn’t have to enter the clapboard house to detect something was wrong.
The property was overgrown, a gate at the end of the driveway had fallen off its hinges and the smell of old pet food and excrement could be detected not long after leaving the sidewalk. The house had power, however.
“They left the AC on. I don’t think we’d be able to go in the house if they hadn’t,” Hill said. “I couldn’t imagine the smell.”
The property owner could not immediately be identified and had evidently been absent for quite a while, Hill said, but the Brunswick Police Department was working on a lead.
Hill did not know how long he or she had been absent, but some pieces of mail in the mailbox were 13 days old.
She said that the owner could be charged with felony cruelty to animals and abandonment.
A neighbor claiming to be the one who reported the house to animal control asked not to be named, but said she ran by the house every morning. It was not uncommon to see more than a dozen cats crowding the windows, she said.
She said she had not seen the owner in seven or eight months. How long the cats had been in the house or how long they’d gone without care she could not say.
Local pet welfare group No Kill Glynn County also showed up to the scene to assist.
Shelly Bydlinski, the organization’s co-founder, said such incidents, while less extreme, aren’t unusual in the area. Making sure cats and dogs are spayed and neutered is the most effective way the public can help prevent similar issues, she said.
Members of the public can give anonymous tips on suspected animal cruelty by calling 911, the county police department’s non-emergency dispatch line at 912-554-3645 or the animal control shelter at 912-554-7500.