Many thanks to the anonymous person willing to be a voice for the animals


Ypsilanti Township, MI (January 13, 2017) – Responding to an anonymous online complaint, Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV) cruelty & rescue officers arrived at an Ypsilanti Township property Tuesday afternoon to find 21 cats in a pitch-black, unheated garage—each in a wire “live trap” or travel cage, barely big enough to move around in.

The cats of varied ages and sizes appeared to be permanently living in small, metal cage traps, stacked atop one another. Each had a used litterbox; one weighed over 20 pounds, filled with urine and fecal matter. The pungent odor in the garage with no heat and no electricity was overwhelming, and the cats—some with urine burns—were filthy and scared. Many were unused to human touch.

“This is a very upsetting case.  Live traps are absolutely not meant for housing. It would have been a torturous existence to be kept alive in filth in a place where even the smallest of movement was impossible—like a person living day and night in a porta-potty,” says Tanya Hilgendorf, HSHV’s president and CEO.

The 21 cats are receiving individualized behavioral and medical treatment at HSHV, including spay/neuter surgery, after which they will be available for adoption. HSHV is accepting donations for their care.

The owner of the cats and renter of the garage near Leforge and Clark Roads said she was trying to help save and find them homes.

“Animal hoarding is commonly associated with serious mental health issues, but without mandatory treatment and monitoring, the situation never changes,” says Hilgendorf.

In Michigan, owners must provide “adequate care” to their animals, including sanitary conditions and exercise; violators can face felony charges.

“It’s also worth noting that it seems there were people who helped her obtain some these poor animals — enabling this cruelty, as is often true in these types of cases. Cruelty almost always has co-conspirators—people who enable and/or those who keep quiet,” says Hilgendorf. “We are very grateful to the person who made this complaint and to all people willing to be the voice for defenseless animals.”

“Sometimes, people don’t come forward, fearing retaliation, but I hope this case encourages people to speak up because they can remain anonymous,” says HSHV cruelty investigator Naomi Smith. “And we take each complaint—anonymous or not—very seriously.”

Smith adds, “Without that person willing to say something, we probably would never have known, and these cats would have continued to suffer.”

To report animal cruelty, please call HSHV’s Cruelty & Rescue line at (734) 661-3512 or submit a report at To surrender a pet in Washtenaw County, visit HSHV’s Intake department at 3100 Cherry Hill Rd, Ann Arbor, open every day of the week. To donate, please go to or call 734-661-3571.

21 cats

About The Humane Society of Huron Valley:

The Humane Society of Huron Valley, located in Ann Arbor, is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and relies solely on the generosity of our supporters to provide critical community programs and services. HSHV is an award-winning organization, recognized for our best practices and highest animal “save-rate” among all similar shelters in Michigan. Charity Navigator, the nation’s top charity evaluator, awarded HSHV a 4-star ranking, the highest possible. The mission of HSHV is to promote the loving, responsible care of all animals in our community. HSHV is not affiliated with any other humane organization and does not receive funding from the United Way. More information can be found on HSHV’s website ( and on our annual report (