Cat House

By: Erica Hurtt
By: Erica Hurtt

A Rockford couple could face criminal charges for keeping some 50-cats in their home.

Winnebago County Animal Control removed the animals this weekend and the landlord assessed the damage Monday.

The Shell family lived at a Rockford residence for several years. But in recent months neighbors got wind of a terrible stench and saw cats roaming in and out of the property. The Shells were in the process of moving from the rental property this month. Michael Wiltse, who lives in Georgia and owns the home was shocked at what they left behind.

"I opened one of the windows and the floor was covered with cats. I was dumbfounded. I had no idea this was going on,” says Wiltse.

Some 50 cats lived in the home with the Shells and their two children, soaking the hardwood floors with urine, clawing at the woodwork and causing thousands of dollars in damage.

"I don't know what I am going to do. I still owe the bank $30,000 on the house. How am I going to afford the repairs?” adds Wiltse.

Neighbors complained about the shells for months.

"It was disgusting. I don't know how people lived like that. The smell was ungodly,” says neighbor Tammy Bartolomei.

Finally animal control officials removes some fifty cats from the home this weekend...a relief for neighbors, but the nightmare just begins for Michael Wiltse, who was removing cats from the property up until Monday afternoon.

Unfortunately all of the cats taken from the property had to be euthanized. They lacked proper registration, shots and many suffered from a respiratory disease.


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