Woman charged after 36 cats rescued from Des Moines home

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DES MOINES (KCRG) - The Animal Rescue League is dealing with its fourth cat hoarding case in Central Iowa in about 10 weeks.

The latest happened Wednesday night at a Des Moines home. ARL took in 36 cats.

Rescuers expect to find more.

"The home was stifling, with no air conditioning units – just a single fan in one window. But that was only the beginning," ARL said. "Every step they took sent clouds of fleas into the air. Cockroaches were everywhere - climbing up the walls, on countertops, and in the cats’ food. When ARL rescuers emerged from the house they had to spray their entire bodies with insecticide because they were completely covered with fleas."

ARL said the majority of animals rescued are kittens that have severe upper respiratory infections, conjunctivitis, ear mites, and eyes that were crusted shut.

"A 6 week-old kitten, who we named Baby, was severely anemic and so underweight he didn’t even weigh a pound. The fleas had literally sucked the life out of him and by the time help arrived, it was still too late, ARL said. "Despite our Miracle Medical Team’s best efforts to save him, there was nothing else we could do. Sadly, Baby died from severe blood loss due to flea infestation within hours of his rescue.”

Authorities have charged the owner, Paula Schaeffer, with multiple counts of animal neglect.

Click here to find out how you can help the animals involved.

In another recent case, the ARL found more than 300 cats at a home filled with filthy conditions in Madrid, Iowa.

Workers found about half of them dead on June 4.

It is considered the worst of the recent cases. Dennis Carlson, 65, faces charges in the case, including animal neglect.