NORTH POTOMAC, Md. - A hazmat team has removed at least 60 cats from a home in Montgomery County.
Police said this first started when they received a call over the weekend in the 12300 block of Sweetbough Court in North Potomac.
"On Saturday evening, Animal Services officers responded out here for a report of a cat in distress," said Jack Breckenridge, an investigator for Montgomery County police's Animal Services Division. "When they made contact with the owner of the property, she admitted that she had too many cats and she had become overwhelmed and asked for our assistance. On Saturday evening, officers removed more than 50 cats from the house and now we are returning to capture the ones too difficult to catch by hand."
Ted MacDonald said he knew there were several cats living at his neighbor's house, but he had no idea just how many.
"The whole situation really became a health hazard as far as the smell, the aroma and the number of cats," he said. "The fact that you have a family of older people and their grandchildren next door [and the smell] permeating through the walls, it's kind of scary."
The high ammonia level inside the 2,100-square-foot home ended up causing the hazmat response Wednesday night.
"Last night when we visited the property, we found that the conditions inside had deteriorated to such a point that the environment was unsafe for our standard work," said Breckenridge. "The conditions in the home are very poor. We are currently conducting an investigation into what the cause is and what the outcome will be here."
Even after dozens of cats have been removed from the house, there are still more cats inside. Authorities have set traps and opened windows as conditions inside the home continue to be unsafe.
When FOX 5 arrived in the neighborhood, crews dressed in protective gear were setting traps inside the home to catch the remaining cats that were unable to be removed by hand.
We are told that the owner not only hoarded cats, but also items. Investigators said there were no cats found dead, although some reportedly required medical evaluation.
Police are conducting an investigation to determine if the owner will face any criminal charges such as animal cruelty.
Maryland has no limit on how many cats a person can own. However, we are told the law requires there be enough space for the animals.