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124 cats rescued from Crystal, Minnesota home covered in "dried cat feces and vomit," charges say

More than 100 cats rescued from Minnesota home
More than 100 cats rescued from Minnesota home 01:56

CRYSTAL, Minn. —  A Twin Cities woman is facing multiple charges of animal torture after more than 100 cats were removed from a home in Crystal earlier this year, according to a complaint filed in Hennepin County on Monday.

Forty-seven-year-old Shawna Duffy, of Crystal, was charged with 10 counts of animal torture.

Officers visited Duffy's home in January after her boyfriend admitted to illegally dumping bags of feces in Plymouth that he claimed were from her house. The officer was unable to make contact with Duffy but observed the sound of "numerous animals coming from inside the residence and was met by a very strong odor of cat feces/urine" that could be smelled from as far as 15 feet away, according to charging documents.

Animal control officers went to the residence on Feb. 14 and Feb. 16 but no one answered the door. A strong odor of cat urine and feces was also reported by the officers.

On Feb. 27, Crystal police and animal control officers, along with representatives from the Animal Humane Society, executed a search warrant at the residence on 6900 Dudley Avenue North while Duffy was present. During the initial search, 96 cats were recovered from the home, as well as one cat skull. Three of the cats were kittens.

One of kittens recovered from Duffy's home Animal Humane Society

MORE: 102 cats removed from home in Crosby due to neglect, unsafe conditions

Police say every surface of the inside floors, walls and any furniture was coated with "mud-like substances determined to be dried cat feces and vomit." There were several litter boxes but all appeared to be full of feces. 

One bowl of water was left in the kitchen sink with various other dishes and the sink was left running to provide access to water for the cats. For food, the cats ate out of an open medium-sized plastic tote bin, according to the complaint.

Some cats were found living in holes in the walls, inside furnace vents and in a crawl space under the main floor. Many of the cats were reported to be in inaccessible spaces, charges state.

Due to the condition of the home, city inspectors deemed it uninhabitable. 

Officers recovered an additional seven cats on March 1, four on March 5, six on March 6 and two on March 7.

Inside Duffy's home in Crystal Animal Humane Society

All 124 of the cats rescued had upper respiratory infections, with approximately 40% of them having severe infections, according to the Animal Humane Society. Three cats had infections so bad they were euthanized.

Six other cats were euthanized for various health reasons.

"Anytime cats are stuck together, there are a ton of health issues that occur," said Dr. Graham Brayshaw. "Too stressed to fight it off and they really do get ill associated with it."

Most of the cats were "largely undersocialized, underweight, had respiratory infections, were malnourished, dehydrated and many other painful conditions," the report from the Animal Humane Society states.

The Animal Humane Society told WCCO it does not have any of the cats from this case in the shelter currently, but there are a few still in foster that will return soon.

Since the rescues, more than half were put down due to medical conditions but dozens of survivors have been adopted into new homes.

As cases like this are on the rise, Brayshaw says reporting is crucial — stepping in before it's too late.

"We can respond more and try to alleviate the suffering that occurs in these kind of situations. I really think it's an uptick in the reporting more than it is this behavior happening more," Brayshaw said. "It's preventing future suffering for those animals and next animals they may get."

As of Monday, Duffy is not in custody.

Note: This is a different case from the cat rescue in Crosby that WCCO reported on recently.

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