Concern over possible animal neglect in Maquoketa - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Concern over possible animal neglect in Maquoketa

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MAQUOKETA (KWWL) -- The Jackson County Humane Society is concerned about a possible large number of cats in an unoccupied house.

Neighbors on south Second Street say one home may hold as many as 50 cats, and the tenants no longer live there.

One of those two tenants, Sarah Elliott, said she and her husband have rented the house from their landlady for three years but had planned on moving out after her husband had a heart attack in August.

"When I moved in here, I told her that I only had five cats, and she said that's fine," Elliott said.

Around the same time her husband had the attack, Elliott's 94-year-old landlady said she had concerns over the number and cleanliness of Elliott's cats.

"The landlord here told me to get rid of my cats. I got rid of them, immediately," Elliott said.

When asked whether there are currently any cats in the house, Elliott said, "not even one single cat."

However, a glance up at a sunny second-floor windowsill told a different story. A white cat sat staring down at the world.

"As of two o'clock this morning, when I took a little stroll outside, I saw two cats in the window," neighbor Brad Martin said.

"They're lying," Elliott said, of anybody who claimed they had seen cats in her apartment recently. Elliott said she'd gotten rid of her five cats more than two months ago.

Maquoketa police chief Brad Koranda paid the house a visit about two weeks ago, in response to a complaint from the Elliotts' landlady.

"I knocked on the door and one cat did come up and sit on the windowsill," Koranda said. "Very strong smell of cat. Feces and stuff like that. Urine. But the cat looked fine to me."

Koranda said it's not the number of cats that's the concern, since Maquoketa has no ordinance limiting the number of domestic animals a person can have.

"It may not be sanitary, but they may not be neglected. You know, I mean, they might be getting enough food," Koranda said. "It's just the sanitary conditions of the house and for the animals living there and for the humans living there."

Koranda said had he been notified of the situation months earlier, the health department might have been alerted. However, he said, since the Elliotts' lease is up at the end of October, it would be quicker for the landlady to regain access by default than to wait for the health department to start its inspection process.

Elliott showed KWWL reporter Becca Habegger the first floor of the house, which revealed no cats.

Elliott said upstairs was "just stuff that I still have up there...and my mom is up there cleaning."

She said her mom didn't bring any cats to the house. Elliott also said she gave her five cats those two months ago to her mother, who lives in Wyoming.

The Elliotts have until the end of the month to clean up and move out. At that time, the landlady has access once again to the house, which she said she renovated right before the Elliotts moved in three years ago.

Jackson County Humane Society board members said they are concerned about the potential number and health of cats in the house but they have to wait until the lease is up before they can help in any way possible.

Online Reporter Becca Habegger

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