Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

After owner agrees, SPCA workers take cats from Hernando home

SPRING HILL — Dr. Kim Domokos removed her surgical mask and took a deep breath of fresh air.

For two hours Friday, the veterinarian and a team of workers from the Florida SPCA had collected and evaluated more than 40 cats they had removed from a white mobile home on High Point Boulevard. They were told to expect roughly 65 cats but found nearly 80.

"It's like another world in there," Domokos said. "I'm going to have flashbacks in my nightmares."

For three years, neighbors say, Kristine Pacek's brood of felines grew. Then Pacek, 39, moved in December and left the cats behind. Neighbors complained that the odor wafting from the home forced them to stay indoors.

The Hernando County Sheriff's Office issued 65 citations, mostly for unlicensed and unvaccinated animals, and Pacek racked up $7,800 in fines. The Hernando County Health Department declared the home a public health hazard.

On Wednesday, the Sheriff's Office gave Pacek an ultimatum: Remove the cats by the end of the month or face the possibility of animal neglect or abuse charges.

SPCA Florida officials saw news reports and volunteered to remove the cats, check their health and ready them for adoption. Pacek signed over the animals to the group Friday with the agreement that the citations would be dismissed. She did not stay for the removal and couldn't be reached later for comment.

"She is very distraught that she has let it get to this point and she's having to give them up, but she's glad the animals are going to be taken care off," said Adam Lamb, the SPCA's director of medical services and animal care.

So is the Sheriff's Office, said Lt. Andrew Batchelder. The county's Animal Services shelter didn't have room for the animals.

"We could have taken a very different route by getting a court order to remove the animals, but our fear was the animals would have been put down" Batchelder said.

At 10:30 a.m., SPCA workers donned yellow smocks, surgical masks and blue booties and opened the home's door. The sound of pattering paws could be heard; then an overpowering stench filled the air.

Lamb called the conditions among the worst he has seen. Workers stepped carefully for fear of putting a foot through the exposed wooden subfloor saturated with urine and feces. Cats were hiding in the walls. At least one had died.

By noon, the workers had collected 42 cats, ranging from about 8 weeks to 10 years old. At least some were suffering from upper respiratory infections, dehydration and malnutrition, among other ailments, but were in better condition than expected, Lamb said.

The cats will be taken to the SPCA's Lakeland headquarters for a full evaluation. Some could be ready for adoption as soon as Sunday, Lamb said.

The cats that remained Friday were skittish or feral. The workers left food, water and fresh litter boxes. They will return daily and set traps on Monday.

Neighbors watching the removal unfold shook their heads in disbelief and smiled with relief.

Nancy Whitney-Conway, who lives behind the house, leaned over the metal carriers and tried to soothe the meowing rescuees.

"It's okay. This is good news, guys," Whitney-Conway said. "Be happy."

To inquire about adopting a cat, call the SPCA of Florida, (863) 646 7722. To donate cash or supplies, call (863) 577-4606.

After owner agrees, SPCA workers take cats from Hernando home 02/14/14 [Last modified: Friday, February 14, 2014 10:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was curious how he would feel — and perform — in Friday's exhibition against Nashville, his first game since mid-November knee surgery.

    The Lightning’s Alex Killorn, left, makes his preseason debut and has an assist in a 3-1 win against the Predators at Amalie Arena.
  2. Steven Souza Jr. vindicating big trade for Rays

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — There was a time when the three-team, 11-player transaction the Rays orchestrated to get Steven Souza Jr. from the Nationals looked liked a bad deal.

    The Rays’ Steven Souza Jr. has 30 home runs while improving his defense and baserunning.
  3. Fennelly: Lightning's Manon Rheaume made history 25 years ago Saturday

    Lightning Strikes

    The name is part of Lightning history, hockey history, sports history.

    Lightning goalie Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play in an NHL game 25 years ago today.
  4. Investigators reviewing HHS chief's private charter flights


    WASHINGTON — Federal investigators are examining Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price's recent use of costly charter flights on the taxpayers' dime for official business.

  5. FSU gives president John Thrasher a pay bump as its academic standing rises


    TALLAHASSEE — With Florida State University moving closer to becoming a top-25 public university, the school's trustees on Friday bumped up President John Thrasher's salary by 7 percent and awarded him a $200,000 bonus.

    Florida State University President John Thrasher, center, is surrounded by lawmakers in 2016 as he visits the Florida Senate. Thrasher on Friday received a pay increase to go with the university's increased academic standing, including in the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking of public universities. FSU ranks 33rd this year, and is aiming for a top-25 spot. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]