County Animal Control officers did not find any cats inside a home south of Belleville that authorities said could have housed as many as 28 cats recently.
On Tuesday afternoon, St. Clair County Animal Control Director Jim Jacquot received clearance from the St. Clair County State's Attorney's Office to enter the home at 412 Aaron Drive, located near Belleville. Three Animal Control officer went inside at 3 p.m. and came out about five minutes later without having found a cat.
What they found were flies, fleas and feces among the piles of clothes and garbage that had been piled inside. The stench could be smelled from the street. The three were not able to even enter one of the bedrooms.
Animal Control officer Tim Cavanaugh said that if there are any cats inside, they are burrowing and hiding inside the dilapidated house.
"There are just too many spots from them to hide," Cavanaugh said.
Cavanaugh and the two other Animal Control officer came out of the house with fleas on their shoes and pant legs.
Jacquot said the house has not had any electricity or running water for the past three months.
"It's hard to tell what is in there," Jacquot said. "You can hardly see anything."
He also said this is the worst case he has come across in 12 years on the job. "It's a typical hoarder's house with animals in the house," he said. "Unfortunately, we have one every couple of years, but this is the worst I've seen."
Last week, St. Clair County Building and Zoning Director Anne Markezich said the elderly woman who owns the house had been removed from the property and Animal Services has been working with code enforcers since June 11 to remove and catch as many cats as they can.
Markezich said 15 cats had been captured or removed. Markezich said the county wants to demolish the home.
After searching the inside the house, the Animal Control officers set a trap in the living room and then went to the backyard, where they found two cats, one in each of two sheds in the yard. But they were unable to catch either cat.
Animal Control officers said one of the cats was meowing and seemed healthy while the other looked very thin.
Jacquot said Animal Control will continue to monitor the property and will probably return to the house Wednesday morning to see if they can find any cats.
If any are found, the Metro-East Humane Society at 8495 Illinois 143 in Edwardsville has agreed to take in any adult cats found.
For more information, contact the Edwardsville pet shelter at 618-656-4405.
Contact reporter Will Buss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2526.