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Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.

Half of S.C. Hoarder’s Cats Too Ill to Save

Written by PETA | March 4, 2011

Earlier this week, following PETA’s undercover investigation of a Myrtle Beach–area hoarding facility that had been warehousing hundreds of cats and an arthritic dog named Hope in storage units, roughly 240 cats and the dog were seized from Elizabeth Owen by order of a Horry County judge. Roughly half the cats who were seized were so ill that they had to be put out of their misery.

The cats had been “stored,” some for most or all of their lives, in filthy, cramped cages, unable to get away from their own waste or even stretch or walk, let alone enjoy life. Dozens of cats were suffering from chronic, painful conditions such as anal maggots, herpes, tumors, seizures, multiple abdominal abscesses, severe gum disease, and more. Some people are criticizing county officials for euthanizing the sickest cats, but the real outrage is that these cats had been allowed to suffer and languish for so long with no quality of life whatsoever. If the cats were too far gone to save, it is because of the long-term neglect that Owen subjected them to—neglect that merits state-level cruelty-to-animals charges and a prohibition on obtaining any more animals. Hoarders are notorious for starting back up where they left off if such judicial measures aren’t taken.

Unfortunately, after Owen’s attorney told the judge that Hope and about 30 of the cats were Owen’s “personal pets,” the judge agreed to have them returned to Owen’s custody, following a medical exam by the county’s contract veterinarian. Hope, who is old and suffering from painful arthritis, is mostly kept in one of the storage units in a small pen and on a cold, hard cement floor or tethered outside in front of the warehouse. Owen has been ordered to provide the animals with veterinary care at her own expense, but it remains to be seen if she will do so. Owen couldn’t manage to keep the facility stocked with litter or food, let alone take ailing and even dying animals for veterinary care or euthanasia. Her current registration to solicit charitable funds has been suspended by the Office of the Secretary of State, which means she cannot lawfully solicit donations or items to sell in her thrift store. If the medical condition of the 107 cats whom the county was forced to euthanize are any indication, the 30 animals who went back to that hellhole are doomed.

Not surprisingly, the 101 feline survivors who remain in the county’s temporary shelter facility are also sick. The county is providing veterinary care for them, and PETA is hopeful that once they recover, they will find happiness with responsible families who will give them all the love, attention, and catnip they need and deserve.

Written by Daphna Nachminovitch

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  • lee says:

    im so upset i cant stand it.. when i heard that lady talking i was about ready to throw my computer, `were out of food and litter` omg. i give kutos to the people who record this horrible images i could never do it. god bless peta

  • Ivana Zofkova says:

    I am sad.

  • tiffany says:

    what is PETA doing now to help the surviving cats? Are they helping fund the care or medicine they need? Worried that if the city can’t afford to care for these animals that they will be put down unnecessarily. :(

  • Renee says:

    The Owens woman is lucky that she doesn’t live near me..she wouldn’t have to worry about a judge… how can people be so cruel to animals? It just makes me sick to my stomach… and why did the judge give any of the animals back to her?… for their life sentence?what did the animals do?

  • Nina says:

    Ugh! She disgusts me! she needs to go to prison.This is so WRONG!! it just makes me sad that these poor cats had to go through this with none of thid being their fault!

  • PETA says:

    Animal hoarding is a serious illness that nearly always results in extreme animal suffering. Every hoarder’s behavior translates into severe, even fatal, neglect for animals in his or her custody. We are continuing to push for prosecution in the interest of preventing Owen and others like her from continuing to allow animals to suffer in appalling conditions, and we urge all caring people to take action as well.

  • karyn says:

    THis woman shouldnt be allowed to have any animals back. LOok what she did, those animals suffered, this AINT no SANCTUARY! A sanctuary means to have nice treatment… look it up in the dictionary! THis woman is a horror house. TAKE HER ANIMALS AWAY. once a hoarder always a hoarder… she is cruel, give her anal maggots like some of those poor babies… had. I hope Peta goes back and helps adopt them out! How about peta helping support Dogs Deserve better too!

  • Gail says:

    This Owens woman is very lucky that she doesn’t live in Massachusetts. She’d be in JAIL by now!!! It is a felony here to do what this sick person has done/is doing and ALL ANIMALS would’ve been taken away, including the alleged personal pets, she’d be banned for life from owning any others, pay huge fines, her name would go on a circulation list for all shelters in the state to DENY HER ANY ANIMAL and she’d be the object of derision from all caring people for her lack of basic animal care and decency. Sick, sick, evil.

  • Lisa says:

    This woman purposely denied sick and dying cats vet care. She refused help and confined these poor creatures in a hellhole. While I can appreciate the amount of work it takes to adequately care for a large number of animals (I am currently caring for 20 cats rescued from a hoarder myself), there is no excuse for the abuse this woman inflicted upon these helpless animals. She needs a lifetime ban from owning animals and if she feels the need to ‘help’ cats in the future, she can volunteer at a legitimate shelter. For God’s sake, hoarders rarely if ever get cured even with intensive treatment, this woman is going to keep on torturing and killing cats. Intervene on her victim’s (past, present and future) behalf and never let this woman have pets again. If she does, throw her in jail.

  • lisa says:

    I am disgusted and appalled to the Judge that has let this woman have 30 cats back because she claimed they are personnal animals, noone could have that many and be able to look after them properly, i myself have 12 cats all rescued and know how much the cost is for food and vets bills i couldnt imagine having 30 to look after, sending 30 cats back to a woman who many of her others have had to be put to sleep and the evidence of animal abuse baffles me, the judge is sending these survivers back to hell and sentencing them to death. This would not happen in the UK they all would all be taken and not returned. I cant believe that the USA allow this.

  • Marion Vian says:

    Surely enough is enough – take the rest of the animals away from her and ban her from having ANY animals EVER again. Mans inhumanity to Man is bad enough, but on helpless animals !!!

  • alexes says:

    i wonder if the judge would like to walk over his own feces while been locked in a cage so small he can’t move more than the length of his body. While covered in sores and dying from some preventable disease. that this woman is not in jail just proves the point that the judicial system doesn’t care – unless there is money in it.

  • Janine says:

    If people dont have the attitude that EVERY life is valuable then what is the point? Thirty cats being returned to cruel and abusive conditions is beyond madness and this so called ‘judge’ obviously has no moral centre and will be punished by nature herself.