UPDATE: Shelter can't save every cat rescued from Chickamauga ho - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: 230 cats found in Chickamauga according to GA Dept of Agriculture

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UPDATE: The Georgia Department of Agriculture and Walker County tells Channel 3 that a total of 230 cats were found in the Chickamauga home of Judy Stephens last week.

Walker County authorities are still investigating on whether charges could be filed against the owner, but the Department of Agriculture wrote 16 regulatory violations for non-compliance of Georgia Animal Protection Act, according to Mark Murrah, manager at the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

PREVIOUS STORY: Almost 30 cats have been put down after being rescued from deplorable conditions last week at a Walker County home.

The Walker County Animal Shelter (WCAS) still has a number of the cats taken in by animal control officers.

On Friday, officers picked up more than 150 cats at the home of Judy Stephens in Chickamauga.

READ MORE | As many as 157 cats found at Walker Co. home

Alison Smith, director of the county's animal shelter, said they don't have the exact total for how many cats were inside the home.

Smith said they first identified the most feral cats that are sick beyond nursing. She said they took 70 cats from the home last Friday, many of whom had feline AIDS and feline leukemia. Of those feral cats, 29 have had to be put down because of illness. She said Stephens has been given time to reduce her ownership down 20 cats. Several rescue groups have been contacted to help find the other healthy cats new homes.

"The ones that we extracted from that residence were the ones we considered in the most imminent danger health wise. Those are the ones most feral," Smith told Channel 3 Tuesday. "And you could tell from around their eyes. The hair is missing from around their eyes. Their eyes are thick, and ugh, that's pretty pitiful."

Other sick cats remain at the WCAS and she's hopeful to save some, including three nursing mothers. She said those cats need to be tested for illness and given vaccinations to protect their litters.

Walker Co. Animal Control Supervisor Curtis Patterson said no charges have been filed against the owner. Channel 3 reached out to the Georgia Department of Agriculture for confirmation.

Smith said she wants the main takeaway from the story to be the importance of having animals spayed and neutered. This situation started out as just a few cats rescued from Hurricane Katrina but cats can produce several litters throughout a single year.

In 2013, WCAS took in 1,647 cats for a variety of reasons. Most of the animals taken in are stray. Of those cats taken in, 79% had to be euthanized and only 8% were adopted.

To help, WCAS suggests:

  1. Spay and neuter your pets to reduce the unwanted pet population.
  2. Take responsibility got stays. If you allow an animal to remain on your property, you are considered the owner and this legally responsible and liable for it.
  3. Vaccinate for rabies per state law.
  4. A county ordinance requires pets to be tagged and identified.
  5. Volunteer and foster.
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