December 22, 2009
ASPCA Investigation Leads to the Rescue of Nearly 600 Cats
On November 16, a team of animal welfare professionalscomprised of members from the ASPCA, the City of Labelle Animal Control, the Humane Society of the United States and the University of Florida Shelter Medicine Programin conjunction with the Hendry County Sheriff’s office, conducted an assessment of conditions at the 10th Life Animal Sanctuary in Clewiston, Florida. The situation was deemed unsatisfactory and with the owner’s consent, a team of more than 75 responders, including members of the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team, removed nearly 600 cats from the premises.
Owned by Maury Swee, 10th Life Sanctuary took in hundreds cats from across the country. Swee widely advertised the “sanctuary” as providing “life-long care for sick and unwanted cats in a stress free environment"charging a $550 intake fee per cat. According to local and national news reports, the cats, ranging in age from kittens to seniors, were found living in severely overcrowded indoor and outdoor wire mesh pens. Food and water were scarce and many of the animals were deathly malnourished and emaciated. The felines were also suffering from a host of ailments, including upper respiratory infections and chronic mouth ulcers. Many were also infected with the Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV). Dozens of the cats were in need of urgent medical caresome so ill, humane euthanasia was necessary.
A team of veterinarians from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, an ASPCA partner, treated the cats onsite, giving them complete health exams. The animals were treated for parasites and various illnesses, tested for Feline Aids and Leukemia, vaccinated and microchipped. Once in stable condition, the animals were transferred to rescue agencies across the state where they are currently being placed up for adoption. Many of the cats are feral and require special placement with carefully managed colonies.
In response to the grave situation, the ASPCA awarded an $8,000 grant for medical expenses, housing and supplies to the University of Florida and a $5,000 grant to the City of LaBelle Animal Control. The investigation is still underway.