PRAIRIEVILLE, Texas — Acting on anonymous complaints, the SPCA of Texas seized 39 cats, six horses, three dogs and two squirrels being kept as pets from a property near Mabank Thursday afternoon.
The SPCA said the cats were confined to a small room covered in feces and urine; the horses were kept in filthy stalls.
For the property owner, watching her animals being taken away was devastating.
"This is a situation of cruel confinement," said SPCA spokeswoman Maura Davies. "The animals seem to have food, water, and shelter, but there are about 30 cats being held in a 10 foot by 10 foot room; they're locked in — they have no way of escaping."
Investigators said the animal waste material in the residence sent ammonia levels "off the charts."
"That level of ammonia can cause health issues in humans after just a few minutes," Davies said.
Neighbor and friend Mary Stephens said the owner of the property is an animal lover. "She loves the horses and she thinks she's doing right; you can't tell her any different," Stephens said.
The SPCA had made several trips to this house to encourage change, but they said the owner refused to cooperate.
"She thinks she's protecting them," Stephens said of her neighbor. "If she lets them out, the coyotes will get them."
The SPCA took the animals to its shelter in McKinney, where they will be evaluated for potential adoption.
Details on the custody hearing will be determined on Friday morning.
"It's heartbreaking for everyone — people and animals," Davies said.