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Woman accused of hoarding cats faces felony charge

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CALHOUN COUNTY, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – Dozens of cats are still recovering after being rescued from a home in Athens back in April.

Now, Newschannel 3 has learned that the woman police say was hoarding those cats is wanted on a felony animal cruelty charge in Calhoun County.

Calhoun County Sheriff Matt Saxton is asking the woman to turn herself in.

Several dozen cats remain at the Kalamazoo Animal Rescue, where they are being treated for infections.

Sheriff Saxton says the woman who hoarded the animals left them in a “cruel and uncontrolled environment.”

“We don’t feel like she’s a threat to the community at this point, she doesn’t have any animals right now,” said Sheriff Saxton.

Court documents identify the woman as Deborah Fruin. More than 50 of the cats deputies say she was keeping in her home are still being treated at the Kalamazoo Animal Rescue.

Melissa Sarenius, who works at Kalamazoo Animal Rescue, says medical care has been expensive, but the injuries to the cats were not as bad as she expected.

“The ones we took in, besides upper respiratory and the broken legs, were relatively healthy and actually quite friendly,’ said Sarenius.

Sarenius says she’s shocked that Fruin is facing a felony charge.

“That’s a big deal,” said Sarenius.

Sheriff Saxton says police tried to help Fruin manage the number of cats she was caring for multiple times before 114 of them were removed from her home, but he says she kept bringing more and more home.

“She did attempt to do some treatment for the animals,” said Sheriff Saxton, “but with the sheer number it was too much for her.”

Because this is a first-time offense, Saxton says Fruin likely won’t serve jail time, but will face a fine and will not be allowed to own cats.

Employees at the Kalamazoo Animal Rescue say they are facing up to $30,000 in medical bills. They are hosting several fundraisers.

You can find more information on the Kalamazoo Animal Rescue’s Facebook page here; https://www.facebook.com/KalamazooAnimalRescue/

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