Case Snapshot
Case ID: 19697
Classification: Hoarding
Animal: cat
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Tuesday, Dec 29, 2009

County: Laramie

Charges: Misdemeanor
Disposition: Alleged

» Shirley Clark
» Richard Clark

Animal control officers who removed 91 cats from two Laramie County homes have cited a couple for cruelty to animals and for failing to get rabies shots for the cats.

Officers wrote eight citations to Richard and Shirley Clark of Cheyenne, said Rick Collord, director of the Cheyenne Animal Shelter.

They cited the Clarks in the part of the animal cruelty law that deals with neglect, Collord said.

Authorities ticketed the couple on Sunday. A first appearance will be at 9 a.m. Jan. 12 before Laramie County Circuit Court Judge Catherine Rogers, said T.J. Forwood, an assistant district attorney.

Each faces four misdemeanor counts -- two for cruelty to animals and two for not getting rabies vaccines for cats that were found at two homes. The rabies vaccination requirement is a Laramie County ordinance.

"I just wanted to help the cats," a visibly upset Richard Clark said Monday at his home in south Cheyenne.

He said he was trying to clean up the house.

His desire to care for stray cats boomeranged out of control, he said.

"They (the cats) started taking over the house," he said.

He and his wife are living in one room.

He said he is mentally ill and in deep depression. He recently was hospitalized on a suicide watch.

Clark lost his job in November and fears he will lose his house too.

The cost of feeding the cats runs between $800 and $1,000 a month, he said.

Shirley Clark said the animals get plenty to eat. They both love animals, she added.

Richard Clark told Laramie County sheriff's deputies on Dec. 29 that he couldn't afford to care for the cats anymore.

"I finally asked the animal shelter for help. Now I'm in a lot of trouble."

On Dec. 29, animal control officers and sheriff's deputies removed 34 cats from the couple's home in the 2200 block of South Second Avenue. Two cats died en route to the shelter, presumably from stress or heart conditions, Collord said earlier.

A firefighter from Laramie County Fire District 1 saw cats in the window this weekend. So Cheyenne Animal Control left a message on the door. Control officers have since removed 20 more cats from the South Second Avenue home.

Collord said Rob Shank, manager of the animal shelter, told him they had looked everywhere in the house before leaving Dec. 29 and thought they had all the cats.

Also, animal control officers removed 37 cats from a vacant home the couple owns in the 3400 block of Wenandy Avenue.

Officers will continue to trap cats today, Shank said.

Sheriff's deputies came to the South Second Avenue home Dec. 29 to investigate the man's suicide threats. Someone who had seen Richard Clark earlier asked them to do a welfare check.

Inside the home, officers found two large cat boxes completely filled. There was urine and feces matted on the floor.

At the Wenandy Avenue house, Collord said, Shirley Clark apparently was still feeding them. They told her to stop so they could catch them.

The recovered cats have been housed at the animal shelter.

"(They) are not in good condition," Collord said, adding that they will be put up for adoption if they are "handleable and clear of leukemia."

Animal officials are looking at random testing for feline leukemia and HIV because these tests are expensive.

Many recovered cats have upper respiratory problems and ear mites.

The "majority of them are not social. Right now I can't answer how many are going to be adopted" Collord said.

Richard Clark said he is worried about the citations.

"This whole thing has killed me," he said.

He kept the heat on at the Wenandy house for the cats, he said. His soft heart overrode his brain, he said.

Said Collord: "Some people in this community are missing their cats -- they may want to come in and take a look."

But cats are hard to identify if they're not tagged or micro-chipped. None wore tags, but staffers will be scanning the cats for microchips to see if they belong to anyone.


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