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86 cats taken from Milton home euthanized; couple out on bail

2:28 PM, Jul 2, 2013   |    comments
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Eighty-six of the 225 cats taken from Milton couple's animal rescue group, which was ran out of their home, were euthanized last night, Santa Rosa County officials said.

Allan Dennis Kirkham, 60, and Ella Mary Kirkham, 58, of the 4000 block of Bettain Avenue, were arrested Monday night and subsequently released from jail on $3,500 bonds after being charged with animal cruelty as well as health and safety violations.

The couple has been running a nonprofit, no-kill animal shelter called Kirkham Kattery Rescue out of their approximately 2,400-square-foot home since 2005, according to an arrest report.

The Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office says they and other offices have received about two dozen complaints about the poor living conditions in the house and about the well-being of the cats. The complaints go back to at least 2006.

Their arrest comes in the wake of raid at their house Monday afternoon, when more than 200 cats were taken from the home.

County spokeswoman Joy Tsubooka said in a news release this afternoon that the cats that were euthanized were in a "grave medical condition," and all tested positive for feline leukemia. Veterinarians are now working to evaluate each cat to see what diseases, if any, each of the cats has.

"With any intake of such a large number of animals at one time, the process can take several days to a week to gain a more accurate picture of the situation," the release says.

Tsubooka said the cats from the Kirkhams' home are quarantined in an area that will prevent them from getting other animals sick.

"At this time, it is too early to make plans for the adoption or moving of the cats to other shelters, those decisions are pending on the results of the more thorough health evaluation and veterinary recommendations," the release says,

The county is asking people who adopted cats from Kirkham Kattery Rescue to have their pets examined by their vet.

The Kirkhams have said they formed Kirkham Kattery Rescue as a post-retirement project after seeing overcrowding at local shelters.

'Extremely dirty'

According to an arrest report, most of the complainants reported that cats they had adopted from Kirkham Kattery Rescue were later discovered to be sick.

"All the complainants that have been to the facility location report an estimated 50 to 100 cats roaming at large inside the ... residential home," the report says. "Most report that the facility is extremely dirty with feces and urine everywhere, there is an extremely foul stench and most of the cats are obviously sick."

"Some report extremely skinny cats with hair loss, fluid, blood and puss around the cats' noses, eyes and genitals," the report continues.

In late May of 2013, an undercover deputy went to the shelter to adopt an animal, the arrest report states. The deputy adopted two cats that were later diagnosed by a veterinarian to have feline leukemia, respiratory infections, flea and tapeworm infestations and several other diseases.

Both cats were euthanized.

In response to the undercover investigation and numerous citizen reports of sick cats being seen on the property, foul smells coming from the residence and allegations of Allan Kirkham selling prescription pet medication and supplies over the Internet, deputies obtained a search warrant.

They arrived at the residence shortly before 2 p.m. Monday and found 225 cats in varying health conditions. The animals were removed and turned over to animal control for treatment.

Pensacola News Journal

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