Two Milton residents were arrested on animal cruelty charges Monday evening when Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Office and Animal Services seized 225 cats from Kirkham Kattery Rescue, a non-profit shelter located on the 4000 block of Bettian Avenue in Milton.
Allan and Ella Kirkman were each booked on $3,500 bonds into Santa Rosa County jail, according to Deputy Rich Aloy.
Under the direction of a local veterinarian, staff worked until 12:30 a.m. conducting preliminary assessments of the cats that were thought to be in the most dire condition. Of the 225 cats found on the property, 86 were found to be in grave medical condition and were humanely euthanized. All 86 cats euthanized tested positive for feline leukemia. Authorities are currently evaluating the remaining cats, but with the number of cats seized, it could take days or weeks.
UPDATE 7/9/13: According to Santa Rosa County officials, there have been 113 cats euthanized for health reasons, as of Monday, July 8.
The cats are housed in a non-public, quarantined area where all precautions are being taken to prevent the spread of any potential contiguous diseases to the shelter animals currently available for adoption. Feline leukemia, is one of the most commonly diagnosed causes of disease and death in domestic cats, and along with upper respiratory diseases, is extremely contagious and can be hard to control once introduced into a shelter environment.
Feline leukemia can incubate for three months and cats can show no signs of the disease. The virus is spread through direct contact including grooming, fighting, sneezing, litter boxes, food and water bowls. It can also be passed to kittens through the mother’s milk.
Anyone who has adopted a cat from Kirkham Kattery Rescue is encouraged to seek immediate veterinary attention for their pet.
More to come as detail are made available.