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Mar 25, 2017 3:46 PM

Cats make a comeback: SPCA picks up the pieces after 34 cats seized from 'deplorable' home


BARNSTEAD — Almost a month after 34 cats were seized from a Barnstead home, up to 10 of the cats are still pending surgery at the Pope Memorial SPCA.

The incident

Police received an anonymous complaint regarding cruelty to cats on Jan. 23 and later applied for a search warrant for the home after an officer visited it.

On February 1, the PM SPCA accompanied police on the warranted search of the home on Hartshorn Road and removed 34 cats from the "deplorable" home, as police put it.

"It was a typical hoarding situation that you would see on the TV show 'Hoarders,'" Cathy Emerson, Director of Operations, said. "There was stuff piled to the ceilings. Some cats were just roaming free, just using anywhere in the house as a litter box."

Some cats had long hair, which was severely matted with feces inside the mats. Out of the 34 cats, only one was neutered and one of the cats was found to be pregnant.

Emerson commended the family on at least separating most of the females that were in heat into separate cages to prevent further breeding. She noted that the family certainly seemed remorseful and was helpful in extraditing the cats from the home and into individual crates.

"(The family) were in over their head and did not seek out help," Emerson said. "I think that's the most important thing. If they had done that, they might not have been so far into the situation they were in."

The three people, Philip Harford Sr., 63, Marsha Harford, 63 and Philip Harford Jr., 40, were forced to vacate the home the day of the incident and were each arrested on a warrant for two counts of animal cruelty on March 22.

The recovery

Twenty-four days later, Emerson sat down with NH1 to discuss the condition of the cats and their need for a "loving home."

Upon arrival, the cats were all given names correlating to the mountains in New Hampshire, in order to represent their strength and beauty, Eve Scarcello, Development Assistant, explained.

Some of the cats went through the process pretty quickly — only needing a few teeth pulled or a matte shave. But for some, they are still in recovery, or even still waiting to be seen.The worst of the cases involved one cat that lost an eye, and another that needed her tail amputated.

Almost all of the cats needed dental work, needed to be neutered or spayed, and all suffer from upper respiratory issues, which will cause the need for antibiotics in the future for some.

With that, the large extradition of cats and their need for medical assistance has put a reasonable amount of strain on the Pope Memorial organization, Emerson explained.

With the upper respiratory issues, as Emerson described as "kitty colds," the SPCA doctors are unable to operate on them until they are stable, otherwise, they could compromise their immune systems. Emerson guessed that about 10 of the cats are still waiting to be healthy enough to be spayed or neutered.

The PM SPCA warns that the cats are used to being free to roam and are not acquainted with using the litter box, so it may take them some time to adjust. The organization wants people to understand this before they become frustrated with the little kitties.

The cat breeds included Himalayan and Persian. The cats that are still awaiting surgery will not be available for adoption until they are healthy and recovered, but other animals at the PM SPCA are available for adoption.

A few of the cats have since been adopted to loving families, happily sharing about their new found furry friends — quirks and all.

"Tom has been settling in well - at times keeping to himself and at other times being very vocal, purring loudly, and cuddling. He definitely has quite the personality," Tom's owner told the SPCA.

Before: After:

Another adopter commended PM SPCA for their hard work and dedication to bring the cats back to health and adopting them out to a happy family as they become ready.

“Pope Memorial does amazing and important work,"one of the adopters told Scarcello. "Not only did they and the community respond to this emergency, but they are taking the time to make the best matches possible. At first shy, Rosie has quickly fit in and is a sweet addition to our family.“

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