SAVOY -- More than 30 cats in need of intensive medical attention have been rescued from an apparent kitten mill run out of a residential home, according to authorities.
The home's owner, who has not been identified, is facing multiple felony charges of animal cruelty.
Responding to nearly a dozen complaints from neighbors and community members, authorities executed a search warrant on Friday at the house, according to Carrie Loholdt, Savoy's animal control officer.
"Rag doll"-type cats -- a breed that mixes Siamese with long-hair Persian-type breeds -- allegedly were being offered for sale to buyers through the Internet for $250 each, Loholdt said.
The owner, who was not at home when the search began, later returned and agreed to surrender the animals to law enforcement authorities.
Formal charges will be filed against the man by next week, she added.
Many of the cats and kittens suffer from severe upper respiratory infections -- to the point where there was blood seeping from their noses and mouths. A few had infections so severe -- including one 10-week-old kitten -- that one of their eyes will have to be removed.
"They all have severe ear mites infestations, and many of them have fleas so bad that they are anemic," Loholdt said.
"This is pretty severe," she said. "I've never seen upper respiratory infections to the point where there is blood coming out of their faces. One cat -- I'm not sure he's going to make it.
A total of 18 cats were transferred to a rescue shelter in Springfield, and another 13 went to Northern Berkshire County Animal Rescue in Adams, which Loholdt also helps operate. Nine others were found outdoors in a feral state, so they will be left where they are until they can be trapped, spayed or neutered and released back into their habitat, where some of the neighbors have been feeding them.
Loholdt said the cost of medical care for the cats will easily rise into the thousands of dollars, so a fund drive is underway to help pay for their treatment. A spaghetti dinner has been scheduled to raise money for cause. The dinner will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 4, at Izzy's Diner on Park Street in Adams.
In a few weeks, many of the cats will be well enough for adoption, and people can go to the rescue group's website, NBCAR.org, to fill out an application, Loholdt said.
Some of the cats have not been socialized, and may not be adoptable if they prove to be hostile to humans. After treatment, they'll be evaluated for socialization and adoptability, Loholdt said.
"I hope people who bought cats from him see what they were supporting when they paid him," she said.
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