Lee County resident Sandra Berkshire got in way over her head trying to care for 72 cats inside her 4th Street home. An anonymous tip led Lee County Animal Care Services to the home on March 18, where more than six dozen cats were living in cages in their own waste. It took more than seven hours for animal control to get all of the cats out of the house. Most of them had fleas, among other issues. Now Sandra’s neighbor’s want to help her out, especially since a few of them gave Sandra cats they could no longer care for themselves.
Here’s a news video where Sandra explains what happened. She had been taking in cats no one else wanted and adopting them out. During the past five years things got out of control. Sandra says she’s been begging for help to find homes for the cats, and is sorry the county had to step in.
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Since the cats were removed from the home, the home has been deemed uninhabitable. The neighbors plan to change that on Saturday. They say Sandra has always been there for them as they faced family problems, and now they want to help her to put her home straight.
Anyone wanting to help clean March 22 is asked to email email@example.com. None of the neighbors were aware that many cats were living in one house. Sandra is staying with friends until her home is cleaned. She was given two weeks to get her property cleaned up, or faces a $250 per day fine.
Neighbor Danielle Null said in an interview with NBC2 News
“Now that we’ve got the cat situation taken care of. It’s time to help her take care of herself and get back into her house.”
Danielle also says that had she known about this situation before the authorities got involved she would have done everything in her power to find these cats good homes instead of having them live the way that they were.
The cats are staying at the Lee County Domestic Animal Services, where a Nine Lives Adoption promotion is being planned. The cats from the hoarding case can be adopted for only $9. For questions, please see the Animal Services website, where phone numbers and hours of operation are listed. http://www.leelostpets.com/Pages/default.aspx
There’s no word on whether Sandra is facing any charges at this time. Sandra says she’s embarrassed about the shape of her home, but is thankful she has such wonderful neighbors who are willing to help her get back to a normal life.
This isn’t the first case of animal hoarding this month in Lee County. Several cases have been exposed recently, with more people turning in their neighbors since news media has brought a lot of attention to the Fort Myers area. It’s believed there are more than 100 hoarding cases out there that haven’t been dealt with.