EMMET COUNTY, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – More than 50 animals have been rescued from an apparent hoarding situation in Emmet County, Michigan, according to reports from Little Traverse Bay Humane Society (LTBHS).

Teaming up with the Emmet County Sheriff’s Office, the humane society led the effort to remove 49 cats and two dogs from a single residence, following their surrender to law enforcement.

Humane society funded rescue operation in the county.

MORE NEWS: Twelve Michigan Lawmakers Report No Financial Assets Despite New Disclosure Rules

The collaborative rescue operation, entirely funded by the non-profit organization, involved eight individuals equipped with full personal protective equipment and respirators along with two deputies who arrived at the scene and transferred the animals to LTBHS.

Despite the presence of a full-time Animal Control Officer in the county, there is no dedicated shelter facility. Instead, the county contracts with the “Emmet County Stray Center” located within the Bay Area Pet Resort. They aren’t mandated to take in cats, although a conversation with a worker at the resort named Ellen said that they have taken in stray cats and kittens and have housed them in a different area of the resort.

The dogs at the Center who are not reclaimed are sent to LTBHS and the cats can end up there as well, according to Ellen, although they also get sent to “Just Cats” in East Jordan, a cat rescuer in Harbor Springs and the Charlevoix Humane Society.

Animals found in deplorable conditions in house and on property.

The rescued animals were found living in deplorable conditions both inside and outside the residence, with many requiring urgent medical attention, grooming, and bathing. Additional stray cats were also seen roaming the property.

Emmet County Sheriff Pete Wallin told the Petoskey News-Review that an EMS call had been made on the residence on Orchard Road in Levering due to medical complications resulting from the house’s “deplorable conditions” including cat feces.

The LTBHS is now caring for the animals with the goal of eventual adoption. Elise Ramsey, the Executive Director, expressed gratitude for the community’s support in both donations and offers to foster animals, telling Michigan News Source, “We’ve had a lot of people step up so it’s been incredible.”

Rescued animals getting medical needs taken care of.

MORE NEWS: VIDEO: Gov. Whitmer Touts EcoG New Headquarters in Detroit

Efforts are underway to address the animals’ medical needs, with some expected to be available for adoption soon. Ramsey said, “The animals are being taken care of LTBHS in an effort to eventually get them adopted. We’re getting everyone cleared and treated medically. We’re starting to work through some of the sterilization surgeries. A couple of these guys have some pretty severe dental disease that we need to take care of. And most of them have upper respiratory that will need to be cleared. They will be in our care for a little while while they become ready for adoption.”

The two dogs will likely be available within the next couple of weeks says Ramsey.

Cats and dogs settling in after rescue.

Ramsey highlighted the dogs’ transformation from first being described as scared and antisocial, saying, “They are adorable, hilarious and friendly” and she says they were “so happy to run around after getting bathed and shaved.”

About all of the animals in their care, Ramsey says, “These animals are lovely…they just want affection so badly.”

Humane society would like to have stray contract with county.

In light of this incident, Ramsey is advocating for LTBHS to handle the county’s stray animals, citing the organization’s capacity to provide optimal care and support.

Ramsey expressed the humane society’s commitment to aiding with challenging animal issues around the clock no matter what the circumstances and emphasized LTBHS’s desire to secure the stray contract with the county to “provide the best quality of care and appropriately hold and report strays, including cats, which have historically been turned away from the Stray Center.”

Ramsey mentioned that she believes the contract will be out for a bid next year and that “it would be great to have the opportunity to for LTBHS to hold the stray contract in the county. This could help minimize unnecessary lengths of stay in shelter, provide veterinary exams, appropriate vaccinations and deworming upon intake, and help every pet in the county, not just the special case (court case) animals.”

Donations and fosters are needed to help rescued animals.

In response to the overwhelming demand for assistance, LTBHS continues to actively seek donations to facilitate the care and rehabilitation of these rescued animals and welcomes fosters and potential adopters.

According to their latest Facebook page post, additional help is needed as they are running through supplies quicker than they expected. They are are asking the community to drop off clumping cat litter, high efficiency liquid laundry detergent, paper towels and wet/dry cat food (especially small bags of dry food).

The rescue operation underscores the ongoing challenges faced by animal welfare groups in confronting hoarding and neglect cases, emphasizing the importance of collaborative community partnerships.

More information will be forthcoming.

An investigation into the case is ongoing, with Michigan News Source seeking further information through a Freedom of Information Act request to the county, which is expected to be fulfilled by May 9th.