Saturday, December 16, 2017
News Roundup

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."

 
Comments
Lightning wins at Avalanche with four-goal second period

Lightning wins at Avalanche with four-goal second period

DENVER — The Lightning left for Las Vegas Saturday for the first of four nights in Sin City.But Tampa Bay’s first regret came before it boarded the charter flight; the Lighting lamented making Saturday’s 6-5 win over the Avalanche much more thrilling...
Updated: 30 minutes ago

Bucs’ Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David out for Monday’s game vs. Falcons

TAMPA — As if containing All-Pro Julio Jones and the Falcons offense isn’t challenging enough, the Bucs will try to do so Monday night without perhaps their top defensive players, tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David.On Saturday, Bucs coa...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Trump defends tax plan, proclaims economy set ‘to rock’

Trump defends tax plan, proclaims economy set ‘to rock’

WASHINGTON — Closing in on the first major legislative achievement of his term, President Donald Trump on Saturday defended the Republican tax cut as a good deal for the middle class while boldly suggesting it could lead to explosive economic growth....
Updated: 5 hours ago
Aquarium reopens to divers

Aquarium reopens to divers

Florida Keys News BureauVisitors to Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters dive with among indigenous Keys fish Friday in Marathon. The attraction reopened Friday after closing just before Hurricane Irma hit the Florida Keys on Sept. 10. Although tourism f...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Florida moves to control booming, invasive iguanas

Florida moves to control booming, invasive iguanas

MIAMI — With burrowing iguanas showing up in people’s toilets and damaging expensive sewer lines, Florida wildlife managers are stepping up efforts to control the state’s booming population of the wild, invasive reptiles. The Florida Fish and Wildlif...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Fan helps fund Miami Stadium’s historic marker

MIAMI — For thousands of kids who grew up in Miami, going to the old Miami Stadium in the Allapattah neighborhood was a part of coming of age. Opened on Aug. 31, 1949, with a game between the Miami Sun Sox and Havana Cubans, two Class B Florida Inter...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Florida man sues for $2.8 million fishing tournament prize money

Florida man sues for $2.8 million fishing tournament prize money

OCEAN CITY, Md. — Phil Heasley of Naples caught the fish of his life, but the $2.8 million in tournament prize money got away. Heasley reeled in a 6-foot white marlin last year off Maryland’s coast. But in a sign of how concerned some big money tour...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard

Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard

Sometime soon, members of the Florida House will be asked to consider a solution for bullying in public schools. It’s a dubious idea based on the premise that students should flee their tormenters, and use voucher funds to attend a private school of ...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Two die in head-on crash on Gunn Highway in Odessa

ODESSA — Hillsborough County deputies are investigating a head-on crash on Gunn Highway that killed two and sent a child to the hospital Saturday afternoon.About 12: 45 p.m., Terry Lee Bronschidle, 70, of Tampa was driving his Chevy Traverse south on...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Q&A with Syracuse coach Benoit Groulx about the Lightning’s next generation

Q&A with Syracuse coach Benoit Groulx about the Lightning’s next generation

DENVER — There might be one team in hockey hotter than the Lightning.It is Tampa Bay’s AHL affiliate, Syracuse.The Crunch has won 10 straight after Friday’s victory over Providence. Why is this important? While the AHL is a developmental league, the ...
Updated: 6 hours ago