CLAREMONT, N.H. (CBS) – A man and woman are facing several animal cruelty charges after police say they crammed 14 cats into a small pet crate left outside their house.
Dwaine Lord, 64, and Crystal Lamonda, 42, both of Tremont Street, Claremont, N.H., were cited on 14 counts each of cruelty to animals, police said.
One of the cats was found dead in the crate and another has since died. Police later identified Lord and Lamonda as the owners of the cats.
The remaining cats were transported to the Sullivan County Humane Society for evaluation. Shelter officials say the cats were underweight, dehydrated and had respiratory infections. Graphic photographs show the emaciated cats covered in feces and blood.
An online fundraising page has been set up to help pay for the cats’ medical bills. About $3,700 had been raised for their care by 5 p.m. Saturday.
Police responded a report of animal neglect on Tremont Street on Nov. 12. When officers arrived, they found the 14 cats crammed inside a small pet carrier. Officials say that crate would be acceptable to transport up to two adult cats.
According to shelter officials, the cats were abandoned in the crate for more than 24 hours, and in the bitter cold, when New Hampshire temperatures dipped as low as 17 degrees.
“Our volunteers rushed to the shelter to meet the police. Another volunteer immediately offered to open her home to these animals as their foster mom. As we rushed to the shelter, none of us were prepared for the nightmare we were about to see,” according to a post on a GoFundMe page to raise money for the cats’ care by the Sullivan County Humane Society. “The police arrived with one medium size dog crate. ONE crate. Our silence was shattered by the piercing, frantic screams of the cats inside.”
The cats “are still thin and on meds for their upper respiratory infections but are becoming more trusting every day,” the shelter posted in an online update over the weekend.
Claremont Police Chief Mark Chase said his department continues to work with the Sullivan County Humane Society for the care of the cats in this case.
Investigators are asking anyone with information about this case to call Claremont Police at 603-542-9538.
Lord and Lamonda are due in Claremont District Court on Jan. 8.