A Tamaqua woman and 17 of her cats were evicted from her apartment at 425 North Railroad St. Saturday.
Mayor Chris Morrison said that there are three apartments in the building, and that PPL had shut off the power for one unit due to nonpayment. When a residence does not have power, it is condemned by the borough, he explained. The borough condemned the apartment Nov. 17.
Morrison said that the landlord for the building, Scott Wagner, had filed an eviction notice for that tenant. The tenant did not comply with the eviction notice or the condemnation action. Wagner, who Morrison said is from the Allentown area, came to Tamaqua Saturday morning and asked for police assistance. Wagner could not be reached for comment Monday.
Tamaqua officers Brad Hess and Rich Bekesy, Morrison, Wagner and Sue Schafer, Tamaqua Area Animal Rescue, were able to convince the woman to vacate the apartment and also sign over her ownership of the cats. The Tamaqua Salvation Army provided temporary housing for her. Officials declined to provide the woman's name.
Schafer said that once officials saw how many cats were present, they called the Hillside SPCA in Pottsville for assistance. A volunteer from Hillside arrived within about 30 minutes, she said.
"If it hadn't been for them (Hillside), I don't know what I would have done," Schafer said. "The cats looked healthy, well-fed, but they had been using the entire apartment as a litter box."
"It was a bad situation and a chaotic situation," she added. "The conditions in the apartment weren't fit for people, or animals."
Schafer said that the cats are "gorgeous" with some apparently purebred Siamese, and some mixed breed with Siamese. There were 10 adult cats and seven kittens. Two adult cats could not be captured Saturday, and a volunteer from Hillside planned to return Monday to complete the rescue.
The cats will be available for adoption from Hillside SPCA after they receive health clearances and the needed vaccinations.
Morrison said that despite the deplorable conditions, he left the house feeling positive about the local response to the matter.
"We have in this community, and this county, a really devoted network of volunteers who care about people and animals," Morrison said. "The whole story is sad, except for that part."