Maryland resident and cat rescuer Renetta DeBlase is speaking out after animal control seized 23 cats from her home and then euthanized 22 of them. DeBlase said she was assured by the agency that they would find the cats new homes. The 76-year-old woman says animal control murdered her cats.
On January 10, DeBlase called firefighters when her radiator broke and water flooded her house. When Firefighters came to the home, they found 28 cats residing in the house. Firefighters then reported the owner to Prince George’s County Animal Control, who came January 13 and seized 23 of the cats because, according to the agency, the cats were living in deplorable conditions. Officers allowed DeBlase to keep five of her cats.
Although she signed a surrender form, Renetta DeBlase tells the Washington Post she only did so after an animal control officer assured her the agency would find the cats new homes. She says her cats were later murdered.
According to the Washington Post, a spokeswoman for Prince George’s Department of Environment, Linda Lowe, admits animal control immediately euthanized 15 of the cats because the agency deemed the cats “aggressive and totally unsocialized.” After working with the other cats, animal control euthanized seven more just two days later. Only one of the cats was spared, Lowe says, because it was the only one responsive to caregivers. Animal control has yet to explain what the “deplorable conditions” consisted of to warrant seizure of the cats, nor explained why, if conditions were so deplorable, five cats were allowed to remain with DeBlase.
Renetta DeBlase, author of the book With Stars in My Eyes, disputes animal control’s assertion that the cats lived in deplorable conditions and were not socialized. She says the seized cats were neutered and chipped by Alley Cat Rescue, a group of volunteers who rescue unwanted and abandoned cats. Since the cats had chips, DeBlase says animal control officers had a duty to notify Alley Cat Rescue before putting the cats down. However, that did not happen.
“The shelter failed to do this and proceeded to kill a variety of beautiful cats and kittens, ages 8 months to 5 years, and many were tame and all were worth saving. One of the officers threatened to fine me $500 if he ever saw me leave food on my front porch for a few ferals living outside and thus subject them to starvation.”
Denise Hilton, Alley Cat Rescue’s director of operations, says she is distraught over what happened to DeBlase and her cats.
“These cats were killed instead of allowing rescuers — who put their dollars, raw blood, sweat, tears into saving lives — to rescue these cats. We are all distraught over what happened.”
DeBlase came in possession of the cats after she started volunteering with Alley Cat Rescue to help take care of neighborhood cats. Three years ago, she took in four to five feral cats, and those cats had more cats. Three generations of cats were living in her home at the time animal control seized the 23 cats.
Renetta maintains the cats were in perfect health, received veterinary care when needed, and tested negative for any serious illnesses. She maintains animal control only took the cats because there was just too many, but according to DeBlase, she is in no way a cat hoarder.
“Hoarding is when people have some type of mental imbalance, and animal control goes in there, and they find dead carcasses and horrible conditions. Here, they found beauties.”