Code Red: More than 300 cats seized as Hillsborough County case explodes

UPDATE: I amended the title. Total count is now at 319 cats seized as of Sunday night!

This is a Code Red and needs crossposting to every potential adopter and rescuer who can save shelter cats! More than 300 cats are expected to be seized as a case in Hillsborough County, Florida explodes. The count is now at 319 cats and 100 exotic birds being seized from a property on Bruton Road in Plant City.

screenshot credit ABC Action News
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

It’s likely more than 80 additional cats will be removed during this investigation.

Six of the cats were in such bad shape after an anonymous call came into Hillsborough County Pet Resources in Tampa from a local veterinarian treating several cats from Fur ‘n Feather Farm. The clinic was very concerned many other cats were in poor condition, due to what they’d seen.

Lori Letzring, president of Community Services and Outreach Manager of Hillsborough County told Fox13 News

“The property itself has a lot of filth, a lot of smell; there were a lot of cats everywhere, some in very sick conditions… The conditions were such that our enforcement team are having to wear personal protection equipment to even work on the property and to help take these cats to safety.”

The video posted below tells how serious this situation is (Facebook video may be slow to load)

Since the owner refused to sign over the cats, they will have to be held at the shelter until the legal red tape is processed and the cats can leave. Update: In a later deal, arrived at quickly, between the owner and Hillsborough County the cats were handed over and five cats retained as pets by the owner.

Any sick cat or owner surrender or cats with behavioral issues may be killed faster than usual to make space for the new arrivals. The public and rescue groups are strongly urged to step up to adopt, foster or rescue any cats already at the shelter who aren’t part of this case.

Hillsborough County veterinarian Mallory Offner stated cats coming in who had to be euthanized were emaciated, anemic and covered in parasites and had a poor prognosis. The rest of the cats have upper respiratory infections, diarrhea, infectious diseases. Many can be treated and are expected to recover.

“We see cruelty cases pretty frequently but this scale is very unusual,”Offner added.

I covered a similar dog case in South Carolina several years ago where the animals remained in shelter care for months and months until the case was settled. This case will turn into a deadly disaster, being all of this is taking place during the height of “kitten season.”

Particularly disturbing is this is the largest case Hillsborough County Animal Services has seen in a long time. Please take the time to watch the complete video, as a lot of information is available on it.

Animal cruelty charges are pending once more investigation is completed. There is one woman, possibly with helpers, in charge of Fur ‘n Feather Farm.

Please feel free to add additional information in the comment section, including what the shelter needs. Click here for the shelter website.

Below is a picture inside this rescue before it went wrong. It is a screenshot from a video slide show:

Inside Fur 'N Feather Farm
Inside Fur ‘N Feather Farm before it went wrong. Photo added by Michael.

Update: Michael (PoC Owner) has spoken with the owner of Fur ‘N Feather Farm, Jean Wilkes, on the phone. He is waiting for her statement. Things are not necessarily as stated by the press. He hopes to be able to write an update in the near future containing Jean Wilkes’ views.

47 thoughts on “Code Red: More than 300 cats seized as Hillsborough County case explodes”

  1. I am amazed at how some people object to TNR so badly because it will not fix the problem 100%. What if we took that stance with all other crime? What if we removed driving laws because there are lawbreakers who exceed the speed limit or drive recklessly? What if we remove penalties for theft and murder because people continue to do both? I believe psychologists call this all-or-nothing thinking, and it is not a healthy place to be.

    • There were 5 females in my colony. Can you imagine how many cats that would have turned into if they hadn’t been TNR’d? It may not solve the problem completely but it sure is putting a dent in the cat population. I think the real problem is many people take in a stray female who shows up at their home and they don’t have have her spayed. She goes into heat, drives the family crazy until she’s let outdoors to mate with every male in the area then she gets turned into the shelter while pregnant or after the kittens are born. Again we come down to spay/neuter laws.

  2. I still can’t wrap my head on how she could have cared for so many cats. With over 300 seized, how many litter boxes did she have to scoop and change daily? Even at a minimum of one for every 3 cats that’s still 100. Say she’s superwoman and can change or scoop one every 5 minutes. That’s still over three hours just taking care of litter boxes. Then there’s feeding. Are any of them on special diets? How many bowls did she have to fill with dry food and how many with wet food? Then there’s medication for the sick cats. There’s also the issue of knowing if any of the 300+ were sick. Plus she runs her own business, which probably takes up a good bit of her day.

    I can hardly wait for Jean to answer some of these questions. Does she have a few dozen helpers? Does she have ANY helpers?

    • Good point. I don’t think she will discuss things with me because of the threat of potential prosecution. I hope she does. She has my telephone number and I have her email address. I don’t think she’ll mind if I say things got out of control. She did telephone so she’s not running away and hiding. That must be a good sign. I don’t think she will be prosecuted by the way. The speedy deal handing over the cats would have helped.

      I don’t think she had formal helpers. I wonder if we can classify this as a case or bad management rather than hoarding. I really don’t see this as hoarding. I don’t think we will hear any more of it. The birds were all okay which tells a tale.


Leave a Comment

follow it link and logo