How Sioux Falls Animal Control Responds to Animal Hoarding Cases

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.- A Mitchell mother and son are each facing ten counts of animal cruelty. It comes after officers removed 37 cats from their home, many in various states of sickness. According to a Facebook page, the woman claims to run a “cat sanctuary” out of her home. As of Monday, several of the cats remain at the Sioux Falls Area Humane Society for care. Authorities say cases like this are not a healthy situation for the owner or pets, even if the intentions are good.

Each day Sioux Falls Animal Control Officers focus on public and pet safety around Sioux Falls. That includes making sure everyone is following city ordinances. One of those is that each household is only allowed four  domestic animals. A large part of that comes down to health reasons. 

“For example, say I have 30 cats in my house. How am I going to be able to maintain thirty cats?  That’s a lot of litter boxes, that’s a lot of food to feed those cats, that’s a lot of veterinary care,” said Julie DeJong, Sioux Falls Animal Control Supervisor. 

Sioux Falls Animal Control responds to approximately 15,000 calls a year. Out of those calls DeJong says only a handful of cases are on the level of last week’s case in Mitchell. 

DeJong says the biggest issue with having a large amount of animals in a confined space is the waste they produce which contains ammonia.

“So strong that it burns your eyes and it burns your throat when you’re trying to breathe it in. So if it’s hard for us to breathe in there when we walk in there, it’s gotta be hard for the animals to live in that situation and for the people living in those homes,” said DeJong. 

So officers come prepared.

“We do have appropriate gear to wear. Masks and booties and suits for some of those situations where it’s a bad situation.” 

Sometimes it’s a process to get all the animals out. 

“In some extreme situations you’ll have cats that can’t be captured. They’ll escape into the walls, they’ll be under furniture, that sort of thing. In those cases we have to leave behind some traps and just keep going back to try to find those animals,” said DeJong. 

The Sioux Falls Humane Society is currently caring for 30 of the 37 rescued cats. Staff members say cases like this require extra and urgent resources. So they are asking for emergency monetary and Purina cat food donations.


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