135 animals pulled from Bel Aire home in hoarding situation

BEL AIRE, Kan. Update Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Bel Aire Police Department gives a final count on the number and types of animals pulled from a hoarding situation in the community Monday.

Police say there were 135 animals pulled from the home including 81 cats, 11 dogs, two chickens, two guinea pigs, seven gerbils, one turtle dove, 14 Norwegian rats, one red-eared slider, 15 ornate box turtles and one flag crown tail beta fish.

Tuesday, Eyewitness News learned more about what kind of conditions these animals are in and how they're being rehabilitated.

Among those helping, local rescue group Beauties and Beasts so far has taken in 10 dogs and one kitten from the home. Randi Carter with Beauties and Beasts says the county called the group Monday afternoon to help with the animal-hoarding situation.

She says most of the animals now in her rescue's care are in overall good health with no fleas or parasites. Carter says most of the animals are also spayed or neutered.

Some of the older dogs need medical attention, as well as one dog who is paralyzed. Carter says she believes the woman who lived in the home with the 100-plus animals meant well, but was in over her head and should have stopped taking in animals long ago.

"We've got a lot of work ahead of us to get vet care, wheelchairs, make sure everybody has a good quality of life," Carter says. "We've got thousands of dollars in vet bills coming up, so we've got to handle that."

It's likely a similar situation for the dozens of other surviving animals pulled from the home.

More than 40 of the 135 animals pulled from the Bel Aire home like guinea pigs and turtles went to an exotic pet store in Bel Aire. The store's manager says they will be quarantined for two weeks and their health will be evaluated. After that, they'll work on getting the animals new homes.

Tuesday night, Eyewitness News spoke with neighbors of the home from where the animals were pulled. They say they are shocked and still in disbelief after learning about what Animal Control discovered inside.

Jana Reeder, a friend of the woman who lived in the home, says she knows her through the rescue community.

"I don't think she intended to be a hoarder," Reeder says. "She has a very good heart. It's just, she needs to know when to stop. You can't save them all, no matter how hard you want to, you can't save them all. And you have to be able to take care of the ones you have before you take in any more."

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Police in Bel Aire Monday responded to an animal hoarding situation.

Animal Control was at the home Monday morning and remained on scene in the early evening, taking out dozens of animals including cats, dogs, turtles, rats, chickens and even raccoons.


Police on scene estimate the total number could exceed 100.

Bel Aire Police Chief Darrell Atteberry says his department took a call Monday morning from someone in the neighborhood, worried about the home's owner and animals inside.

That call came from neighbor Courtney Johnson whose gut instinct led police to the disturbing discovery. Johnson says she often walks by the home with her dog. She knew the woman living there had a lot of animals, but she held out hope the situation at the home would improve.

"Well, I wanted to give them a chance to see maybe if things got better from the first time I saw them and not jump to conclusions or, you know maybe they were in a difficult position to feed or take care of them," Johnson says. "So today was just enough for me."

It was also a lot for animal control officers who wore masks as for hours, they continued to bring animals out.

"It's amazing," Johnson says. "I can't believe they had this many and no one knew around here."

Atteberry says some animals are in good condition while others have died. He says the home is unlivable because of the conditions inside. Police say the woman who lives in the home appears to be in good physical health.

He says the majority of animals were cats.

Police encourage anyone who may see anything that doesn't seem right in their neighborhood to call them. With Monday's situation, Atteberry says this was a case of a woman wanting to help, but getting overwhelmed.

"This is a public safety issue and we want people to realize that if you know someone who might be hoarding animals, it's not safe for the neighborhood, (or for) the person who is doing it," he says.

Johnson says she's glad she made the call to police, for the safety of the animals, as well as the woman who lived with them.

"I'm glad I did, and I just hope that more people are keeping an eye out on neighbors and saying 'hi' and being friendly and seeing their situations," she says.

Surviving animals were taken to the shelter to be evaluated. From there, many could be transported and put in the care of various organizations or rescue groups.

The local rescue group, Beauties and beasts was at the scene in Bel Aire all day, helping with the animals. The group will take care of dogs pulled form the home, foster them out and eventually get them adopted.

If you'd like to help the group, you can find further information on the Beauties and Beasts website.