Las Vegas Sun

September 19, 2019

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Case of Henderson cat hoarding solves odor mystery

There was just this stench.

Neighbors at the Victory Village Apartments in Henderson couldn’t tell where it was coming from, but the smell of cat urine permeated walls in their building, they say.

One woman thought the smell originated in her carpet, while another guessed stray cats were roaming the complex at night, emptying their tiny bladders on the neighborhood walkways.

The Henderson Constable's Office contacted animal control about 10 a.m. Thursday after serving an eviction notice at a unit in the building, located in the complex at 501 E. Lake Mead Parkway, city police spokeswoman Michelle French said.

About 60 cats, including mostly adults and some kittens, were rescued from the first-floor unit, French said.

"I've never even seen them sitting in the window," neighbor Crystal Lines said. "We didn't even know there were cats around."

The cats, which appeared to be in good condition, were taken to the Henderson Animal Care and Control Facility, and their health was being evaluated, French said.

The owner was cited for exceeding the number of animals permitted, two counts of failure to comply with mandatory spaying or neutering of dogs and cats, unlawful living conditions due to excessive animal waste and failure to provide animal adequate feed/water/vet care.

Her name has not yet been released by the authorities.

Lines, a cat owner who lives in the apartment directly behind the unit, left home Thursday morning to pick up her kids from school, she said.

As she walked out, she noticed animal carriers in the grass and animal control personnel in full-body suits.

Since June, she’d noticed a strong odor of cat urine, but she assumed it was something in her unit. She says she had no idea a neighbor was hoarding cats.

“At least I know where the smell is coming from now,” she said.

The unit, where neighbors say an elderly woman resided, was evaluated by animal control Thursday, but there's a chance some cats remain. It was not immediately clear exactly how many the resident owned.

"Anytime I would see her come and go, she would open the door just a little bit and slip in and out," said a neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous. "I didn't know what was going on."

The neighbor said she noticed a plethora of pests and that terrible stench for the past month.

When she couldn’t figure out the source of the smell, she asked apartment personnel if she could bleach the walkway outside her home in case stray cats were the culprit.

Thursday morning, animal control tracked feces across the walkway near her house as they carried out the cats, she said.

“Really no one knew what the problem was until the first animal control officer went in this morning,” she said.

Even after animal control cleaned the area, the smell wafted into the air.

The neighbor said she was disappointed the woman responsible wasn't arrested or required to undergo a mental health evaluation.

“It's horrible neglect and abuse,” she said. “Somewhere in these people's minds, they think they're helping, but they're not helping. They're hurting.”

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