HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. - We'll start with the victims.
We can hear the muted meows of kitties in cages at the Hernando County Animal Services facility in Brooksville. It's the only testimony they can muster after what we're told was a hoarding investigation that ended in a parking lot in Spring Hill.
Frances Terry Evans, 52, had been ordered to turn over her animals to Pasco County authorities, but instead, she piled 50 cats and three old dogs into a U-haul and left them in a Publix parking lot at Mariner Blvd. and County Line Road in Spring Hill.
"I've been involved with numerous hoarding situations during my veterinary career and this was very similar to other cases I've seen," said Dr. Lisa Centonze, the chief Vet for Hernando Animal Services. She continued to describe the animal's condition, "where the cats are so crowded and so neglected and stressed out from the overcrowding that they break with upper respiratory infections."
By mid-afternoon Tuesday, the animals were rushed from the parking lot in Spring Hill over to Animal Services in Brooksville, but for many it was too late.
"So we have 11 cats currently from that group," said Dr. Centonze. The other 39 were humanely euthanized last night."
While the former owner faces 53 counts of animal abandonment, the surviving cats -- including these little ones and a very robust Maine Coon mix -- are all up for adoption as of now.
"I will be in the process of evaluating the medical condition and the temperament of the dogs."
Dr. Centonze says that the 14 animals remaining, are all adoptable here, especially with the push Animal Services is making this time of year, Including free and reduced fees -- especially for kittens like the ones who may just find a loving home.