NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. - Twenty-four cats that were rescued from a Neptune Beach home on Tuesday have been placed at the city's animal control facility for now, but they can't stay there long.
It seems as though it is going to take a community effort to save the cats that were rescued, and there are still at least five more cats that need to be saved from the dirt and feces littered house.
A local veterinarian is trying to find someone to help treat the animals before it's too late.
Veterinarian Mary Cleary began caring for 24 of the sick cats Wednesday that were rescued from the home.
"Many of them were short of breath," Cleary said. "Every animal that came out of there that was alive has a serious respiratory problem. That is because of the housing situation, and each one has serious diarrhea issues and are emaciated."
One by one she's putting them in clean cages with fresh water and food, but this home is temporary.
Cleary said they need to be treated at a facility for at least a week before they can be adopted.
So far, a handful of local veterinarians and rescue agencies have agreed to help.
"I have already made contact with five clinics," Cleary said. "Each clinic has given me a positive response and has been willing to donate their services for three cats each -- to at least give them a full examination and give them the medications they might need."
But that only takes care of half of the animals. The Jacksonville Humane Society said it is full, and many other local rescue shelters said they are packed, too.
Cleary said that if no else one steps up to help, the threat of euthanasia is a possibility. That feeling scares volunteer Courtney Connors.
"It's heartbreaking. Words can't even describe the situation. It breaks my heart," Connors said.
Connors is helping store the cats overnight at Animal Control. She said she knows the cat's owner. Last month, Connors said she did some volunteer work for the owner's cat adoption charity, called Adopt A Rescued Kitty, but she had no idea what was going on behind closed doors.
"She loves the animals so much, I think she just tried to do too much good and got in over her head," Connors said.
As the city tries to rescue the rest of the ill cats, the work begins to try and find someone to nurse the cats back to health.
If you would like to help the cats, call Patti Connor, of Forgotten Ones Northeast Florida, at 904-762-7004.
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