Thursday, July 26, 2012
Mesquite authorities find 89 cats, shut down Halteman’s Haven Rescue
Keli Halteman had more than three times the allowable number of cats.
MESQUITE “HALTEMAN’S HAVEN HAS BEEN SHUT DOWN!!!!,” proclaimed the post on their Facebook page yesterday. Indeed, Mesquite animal control authorities had visited the home of founder Keli Halteman and removed approximately 86 of the 89 cats living in her home. The cats were surrendered by Hatleman.
The city of Mesquite has pet limits – “Residents are limited to three (3) dogs and three (3) cats per household.” But because Halteman’s Haven was a 501c3 charitable organization dedicated to rescuing sick and injured cats, the city of Mesquite had given Halteman permission to house as many as 25 cats – more than eight times the normal amount. But apparently that wasn’t enough. Instead, she had more than three times the number she’d been given special permission to house.
Was Halteman a victim of circumstance? She lost her job at a VCA Animal Hospital earlier this year and then the A/C went out in her house, so on the surface, it’s possible she was. But she still kept taking in sick and injured cats, unable to say “no." Just a few weeks ago, she took in a cat that had suffered a blunt force trauma to his right jaw, broken teeth, and a cut tail. She originally told supporters on Facebook that Mogul, as the cat was called, had been beaten by two teenage boys with a baseball bat and left for dead. Halteman’s Haven volunteers started a Facebook page for Mogul that gathered 1,800 fans in just a few weeks, got the attention of local media, and raised hundreds of dollars in donations. They even had t-shirts made that read “I am the face of an abused cat, but I was lucky. I was rescued by Halteman’s Haven.”
Turns out there was no abuse, no baseball bat, and no teenage boys – something they admitted on their Facebook page on July 18. The cat had most likely been hit by a car. It was not abused. Halteman’s was forced to offer to return donations they had collected.
Even more disconcerting to some is that Mogul tested positive for two serious diseases – FIV, which is transmissible but in most cases manageable, and Feline Leukemia, a very serious, very contagious, and often deadly disease, and yet he was living in a home with 88 other cats, and he was available for adoption.
Dr. Lila Miller, DVM, in an article on cat diseases for Petfinder.com states that Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) is one of the most feared causes of disease in cats, and FeLV positive cats should be housed separately from other cats. Certainly, adopting out a Feline Leukemia cat is not unheard of with the proper disclosures and to a home with no other cats, but it’s also not considered a “best practice” for rescues and shelters. And while a Halteman’s Haven volunteers speculated that Mogul may have simply been a carrier, and as such would not have succumbed to the disease himself, nor would he be contagious, there is no way to be sure.
A Halteman’s Haven volunteer, writing on Facebook, blames the loss of the cats on a vendetta by a neighbor with a grudge against Halteman. WFAA is reporting that multiple neighbors, concerned by the smell coming from the home, actually called animal control.
According to this same volunteer, again posting on Facebook, “They [Mesquite Animal Control] told Keli she was over the limit. Well, yeah, we take in animals that no one else will.. our adoptions have been very low.. there’s nothing we can do.” There’s nothing we can do? Was Halteman a hoarder? “Historically, a person who collected animals was viewed as an animal lover who got in over his or her head, but the truth is that people who hoard are experiencing a total loss of insight,” states Dr. Randall Lockwood, ASPCA senior vice president, Forensic Sciences and Anti-cruelty Projects in an article for the ASPCA. “They have no real perception of the harm they’re doing to the animals.”
Victim or hoarder, Halteman’s Haven could have and should have stopped taking in cats – a long time ago, is would seem. Mesquite Animal Shelter staff are now working to catalogue all 86 cats and get them entered into their database. They are hoping to get as many of the cats as possible out to reputable rescue groups and individuals as possible, starting as early as today. Rescues interested in helping with the cats may contact Donald White, superintendent of Animal Services, city of Mesquite at 972-216-6910 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. You must be able to provide proof of your 501c3 status unless you are already approved by Animal Services. Those cats that will be made available to the public to adopt will be posted online soon on the shelter’s website. Rescues and adopters will be provided the records from the veterinary examinations.
Three cats, including Mogul, remain with Halteman. Five cats remain at Petco, and volunteers are scrambling to find foster homes or adopters for them.
Pegasus News Content partner - DFW Animal Rescue
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