A car pulled into a shopping center on Piney Forest Road and Riverside Drive on Monday afternoon.
The doors opened. Then, more than 30 cats were unloaded, authorities report.
Such an occurrence in that area is not unheard of, though the number of abandoned animals certainly is.
“It is not uncommon for something like this to happen,” Danville Police Department Lt. Mike Wallace said. “It is unusual to drop 20, 30 cats in one place.”
Danville police are investigating the abandonment the cats in that area, Wallace said. Abandoning an animal is chargeable as a misdemeanor under state and local laws.
Paulette Dean, executive director of the Danville Area Humane Society, said cat traps have been put in the area for 10 years in the hopes of corralling the abandoned animals and taking them to a shelter.
“This has been a dumping ground for many years,” Dean said. “While we were not surprised, we were greatly saddened.”
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Dean said somebody reported they “saw someone pull up, open the door, and he believed at least 30 cats were let out.”
Those cats, Dean said, pose a risk to public health. They attract wild animals and can contract and spread disease among people. Reports of bites and scratches have come from that area, she said.
“There is also a risk when you have wild animals in the same area as cats,” Dean said. “The wild animals who have rabies can attack the cats, and then you have a rabid cat running around.”
Danville’s animal control department is working to trap the cats, Wallace said. The trouble, Dean explained, was that some people steal the traps or release the caught cats. Wallace confirmed some traps have been opened or stolen in the past.
Some release the cats, Dean said, because they think the animals can survive out in the wild. Others continue to feed them.
“It’s all part of the philosophy of any life is better than no life, or that cats are perfectly fine, they can survive on their own,” Dean said. “The fact is that doesn’t happen.”
The humane society has received multiple reports of sick, dying or dead cats in that area.
But there is some attention paid to the area where the cats were offloaded. What appear to be a few plastic tarps sit in the woods behind a Tractor Supply’s loading docks on Piney Forrest Road. They look like junk, but a few stainless steel food bowls glint between the brown coverings and overturned crates.
A few cats stirred between the narrow trees and ran when approached Tuesday.
A $1,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of the suspect who abandoned the cats, the humane society reported Monday. The money comes from private donations.
“We are concerned about the cats and offered the reward so someone can come forward and stop the cycle of abandonment and neglect,” Dean said.
James Whitlow reports for the Danville Register & Bee. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (434) 791-7983.