Rescue of Over 30 Hoarded Felines Underscores Need to Renovate Cosgrove Shelter
Between Wednesday, Oct. 14 and Sunday, Oct. 18, at least 32 kittens and cats in dire condition were extracted from a home hoarding situation in this area. (Photo courtesy Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter )
Some of the rescued felines have required medical attention including surgery, others need care for open wounds, many have upper respiratory infections; and most are dehydrated, underweight and suffering from trauma. (Photo courtesy Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter )
The rescues are currently being kept in the care staff and volunteers at the shelter. Here, Municipal Animal Control Officer and Cosgrove Animal Shelter Director Laura Burban assists a kitten rescued from the hoarding situation. (Photo courtesy Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter )
Between Wednesday, Oct. 14 and Sunday, Oct. 18, at least 32 kittens and cats in dire condition were extracted from a home hoarding situation in this area. Twenty of the felines were removed on Oct. 14, with two more rescued on Friday, Oct. 16. Over the weekend, officials removed another 10 among those believed to be still hunkered down in hazardous home. The last of cats are being extricated from interior spaces including radiators and inside walls, said Municipal Animal Control Officer and Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter Director Laura Burban.
Overall, "...we're estimating somewhere between 30 and 40 cats to have been in there," said Burban.
The rescues are currently being kept in the care of Burban's staff and volunteers at the shelter, which serves as the municipal animal control agency for the towns of Branford and North Branford. As of press time, the case was still under investigation and no information could be shared on the location of the hoarding house.
In her 12 years on the job, including several cases of extreme animal abuse, Burban said this situation "definitely ranks among the top five" worst cases she's ever encountered.
"You set foot in this house, and there's feces and urine from the time you step in. It's carpet, and you squish. The ammonia is horrendous. We're fully suited in hazmat-types suits and wearing masks," said Burban, speaking to Zip06/The Sound on Oct. 16.
Burban did note that, in addition to her agency, there are multiple agencies involved in the case.
"There's a police department involved, there's a health department involved, and a fire department as well," said Burban.
Some of the rescued felines have required medical attention including surgery, others need care for open wounds, many have upper respiratory infections; and most are dehydrated, underweight and suffering from trauma. There are a few pregnant cats in the group, as well. After being evaluated by a veterinarian, the cats and kittens are being housed and cared for in a room at the shelter building at 749 East Main St. in Branford.
Burban said biggest issue has now become managing the distressed felines in a shelter building that's ill-equipped to provide proper separation, ventilation and other facility needs in this type of emergency. While Burban and her small staff and volunteers are doing their best to avoid "cross contamination" with other shelter animals, she said it's a uphill battle.
"We've set up the 'fast cat adoption' room as ground zero for all these cats," said Burban. "We have specific people coordinating those cats, so that there's no cross-contamination, even though there's probably going to eventually be cross-contamination, because their ventilation system is all the same. It's a problem for all of these animals, unfortunately."
It's not lost on Burban that this animal emergency is taking place just as Branford is poised to go forward with the process of beginning a $2.8 million renovation and expansion of the shelter facility. Bonding for the project was approved by Branford's Representative Town Meeting in September. The Cosgrove Shelter's board of directors has committed to raising $1 million of the project cost from donors and grants. Contributions to the shelter's $1 million capital campaign "Saving Lives, One Animal at a Time" can made online at CosgroveSavingLives.org
The new shelter, which will include separate ventilation systems for each room and air conditioning in kennels, will double the facility from 2,600 square feet to more than 5,000 square feet, with separate entrances for animals, staff and vets and the visiting/adopting public.
Burban said the public has always been generous in supporting animals in medical need at the shelter, but it's now more important than ever for those who wish to help to direct their contribution to the shelter's capital campaign.
"Without the new building, we're still going to be in the same predicament; so we have to get to that place," said Burban. "With their help, they'll help to make a new building happen; which will help all of these types of situations."