Alachua County, Florida – A High Springs couple was arrested and charged with 47 counts of animal cruelty stemming from an event in June where authorities seized nearly 700 cats from their Haven Acres Cat Sanctuary.
Pennie and Steven Lefkowitz – the owners of the “sanctuary” – reportedly spent $33,000 last year alone to fund the animal shelter, which was originally started as a way to provide a home for unwanted felines.
“I was just tired of seeing so much euthanasia and wanted to know what we could do personally, and he said Alachua County needed a cat sanctuary,” Pennie Lefkowitz told News4Jax earlier this year.
Despite being warned by the county that they could only care for 100 felines, the Lefkowitz’s continued to take the animals in, and by June things were so out of hand at the shelter that authorities were forced to step in and rescue approximately 692 cats from what the Humane Society of the United States said was the biggest case of cat hoarding they had ever witnessed.
“These people started out well intentioned, but they were in way, way, way over their head,” State Attorney Bill Cervone told The Gainesville Sun. “I am optimistic we will be able to resolve something with them that will address the mental health issues that I believe they have and prevent a recurrence.”
Sadly, one hundred of the rescued felines had to be euthanized because their diseases were so severe, but the rest are being cared for by University of Florida veterinary students who plan on holding a “kitty adoption drive” at the end of the month.
The Human Society released the following video which documents their rescue of the nearly 700 cats.