Hundreds of cats rescued

A Las Vegas cat rescue organization could face animal cruelty charges in Nye County after hundreds of sick and starving cats were rescued from the group’s fly-ridden sanctuary at the south end of Pahrump.

For the Love of Cats and Kittens, or FLOCK, allowed as many as 400 cats to roam free at the no-kill facility, which animal control officers described as a cluster of open cat rooms on 2 1/2 acres of brush and dirt. The property is surrounded by a 12-foot fence topped with barbed wire to keep the cats from escaping, said Tim McCarty, animal control supervisor for Nye County.

Animal control officers took control of FLOCK’s sanctuary on Friday. The cats are now under the care of Best Friends Animal Society, a Utah-based group that McCarty credits for saving the animals from almost certain death.

"The best-case scenario for the cats was Best Friends stepping up. We can all feel good about this," he said.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Best Friends led a massive animal rescue operation to the disaster zone. Russ Mead, general counsel for the nonprofit organization, said the conditions they found in Pahrump are even worse than what they encountered along the Gulf Coast.

"This is the worst (case) I’ve seen in terms of animal cruelty and neglect," Mead said. "When we got there, your eyes would water from the smell of urine and feces, and there were thousands of flies in every building."

Mead said one cat got an infection that went untreated after one of its eyes "blew out." When the cat was found, still alive and hiding under a bush on the property, there were maggots coming out of its eye socket.

Only three cats have died since Best Friends arrived on the scene Saturday, Mead said.

"Seventy-five percent of them are sick in some manner or another. There is a whole section of them that are starving to death."

Medical assessments are still being done, but Mead said it appears most of the sick cats have illnesses that can be cured.

McCarty said animal cruelty charges will be filed against someone in connection with the conditions at the sanctuary, but he declined to elaborate. "The investigation is ongoing," he said. "In scope, it’s larger than anything we’ve dealt with."

Maggie Ward, the newly elected president of FLOCK, said the conditions at the shelter came about because of mismanagement by the organization’s previous president, who took over when the sanctuary moved to Pahrump from Las Vegas in 2006.

"We didn’t know about it (the conditions) for a long time because she wouldn’t let volunteers into the facility," Ward said. "She kept it locked and changed the locks every couple of weeks."

When FLOCK volunteers finally were able to gain access to the sanctuary, they found it was understaffed, coolers were not being used in the cats’ huts, and the animals weren’t being adequately fed or given medical care.

"She couldn’t do the job or wouldn’t do the job," said Ward, who added that authorities have asked her not to name the previous president.

A member of FLOCK contacted Best Friends for help, Ward said, because the problem "was overwhelming and beyond our means, moneywise."

FLOCK’s Web site offers no hint of trouble. It includes photos and a description of the Pahrump sanctuary under the heading, "A Safe Place: Life is Good."

The organization apparently continues to offer cats for adoption at two PetSmart locations in Las Vegas. A spokeswoman for the pet store chain on Wednesday said the company is reviewing its relationship with For the Love of Cats and Kittens.

McCarty said animal control officers were tipped off about the sanctuary last month by a FLOCK volunteer who was concerned about the conditions there.

"They didn’t kind of have a problem; they had a horrendous problem," McCarty said. "They might have managed forty cats, but not three or four hundred."

Best Friends has agreed to assess all the cats, provide them with food and medical care, and find homes for them. The process could take three months and cost $500,000, McCarty said.

Mead said it is too soon to predict the rescue’s final price tag.

"We won’t know how much it will be until we’ve had a chance to look at all the cats. We know it will be six figures," he said.

One thing is certain, McCarty said: Nye County has neither the staff nor the money for an operation such as this. Without Best Friends, most of the cats probably would have to be euthanized.

"How do you deal with 300 cats all at once? It would have absolutely overwhelmed the Nye County Animal Shelter," McCarty said. "Three hundred sick cats could not be brought into the shelter."

Best Friends staff member Tiffani Hill said the group is looking for volunteers to help with the rescue. No previous experience with cats is necessary, she said.

"We just need people who are willing to work hard and can stand the heat."

Hill said anyone interested can call her on her cell phone at 805-698-5959.

Mead said the Pahrump rescue operation also could use donations, particularly Friskies-brand canned cat food.

Best Friends Animal Society operates the nation’s largest no-kill animal sanctuary near Kanab, Utah, about 200 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

Its pet rescue after Hurricane Katrina was a $6 million operation, Mead said.

FLOCK last made headlines in 2001, when one of its volunteers was charged with posing as a veterinarian and illegally killing 210 cats at the no-kill shelter the organization once operated in Sloan.

Las Vegas resident Sam Ockene pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to probation.

UNLV Surgeon Performs Successful Rare Pancreas Surgery
Las Vegas resident Mary Duda underwent a pancreatoduodenectomy, or Whipple procedure, for her pancreatic cancer. While the grandmother of 19 recovered, her doctors say she's one of the lucky ones. Pancreatic surgery can be risky and has a high morbidity rate. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Las Vegas police explorer sentenced to 25 years to life in prison
Former Las Vegas police explorer Joshua Honea sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for sexual assault of a minor, but was allowed to remain free on bail pending appeal. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights Fans Line Up to Grab Their Conference Champions Gear
Golden Knights fans lined up at City National Arena Monday to snap up Conference Champions gear and other memorabilia the day after the Golden Knights won the Stanley Cup Conference Finals. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas-Review Journal)
Las Vegas shooting survivor has surprise reunion
Oct. 1 mass shooting survivors Taylor Stovall and Parker Gabel meet for the first time since Gabel helped the injured Stovall to an ambulance the night of the shooting. Stovall, then 17, was shot in the arm. They met Friday at the Tropicana.
Hawaii volcano presser
Talmadge Magno of Hawaii Civil Defense gives an update on the Kilauea volcano
Same-Sex Weddings on the Rise in Las Vegas
Allie and Tara Shima finally tied the knot. They've been together for five years and have both been married before. This time, they wanted something simple, quick and cheap, but it still had to feel special. The couple chose Las Vegas. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Courtyard Homeless Resource Center begins building in Las Vegas
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Ward 3 Councilman Bob Coffin kicked off the demolition of buildings where the Courtyard Homeless Resource Center will be built. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
"Yanny" or "Laurel" hearing test has gone viral
'Yanny' or 'Laurel?' This Hearing Test Has Gone Viral This hearing test has gone viral on social media with some hearing "Yanny" while others swear hearing "Laurel." The voice is actually saying "Laurel," but the pitch was changed, causing some to hear "Yanny."
LVMPD Briefs on Year's Sixth Officer-Involved Shooting
Las Vegas police have identified the officer who shot a shovel-wielding woman on Saturday as 23-year-old Ondre Wills.
Police release body camera footage of shovel-wielding woman
Las Vegas police identified the woman they said threatened neighbors with a skillet Saturday night. Officer Ondre Wills, 23, shot at Sommer Richards, 34, multiple times on Big Sur Drive, near Nellis Boulevard and Desert Inn Road. Police responded to the area after receiving reports that the woman was armed with a shovel. Police said the woman chased neighbors and a security guard. Wills got between Richards and the others and repeatedly told her to drop the shovel. The woman instead turned and moved toward a person who was standing nearby before the officer fired shots. Police said she bit another officer as he attempted to render aid. Richards remains in serious but stable condition.
College of Southern Nevada Graduates 2017-18 Class
The College of Southern Nevada's graduation ceremony was held at the Thomas & Mack Center Monday. The 2017-18 class was the institution's largest in history. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Metro looking for suspect in bank robbery.
On Jan. 22, a man robbed a bank in the 8700 block of West Sahara Avenue.
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee at opening of U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, at opening ceremony of U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, speaks about the violence in Gaza. (Debra J. Saunders/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Supreme Court strikes down law banning sports betting outside Nevada
The Supreme Court has overturned a federal ban on sports gambling. States other than Nevada will be allowed to provide bookmaking and betting at casinos and race tracks. Justice Samuel Alito said Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, “each State is free to act on its own.” The vote was 6-3. One research firm estimates that 32 states will likely offer sports betting within five years.
Westcare Clinic Crucial to Las Vegan's Addiction Recovery
Christian Hunt, 21, was sent to Westcare in September after he ended up on drugs and in the hospital. If it weren't for the nonprofit's Community Triage Center, Hunt said he would still be using drugs. Instead, he's been sober for six months, and stopped using methamphetamines seven months ago. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Foundation Provides Full Rides for Clark County Students
Somewhere along the banks of the Ohio River in Owensboro, Kentucky, a group of students from Sin City are pursuing a higher education. Feature on the 38 Clark County students that the Rogers Foundation has given full rides to for Kentucky Wesleyan College. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Flames engulf house in Henderson
Clark County firefighters battled a house fire early Friday morning in Henderson. The house, located near Volunteer Boulevard and Executive Airport Drive, was fully engulfed in flames about 2 a.m. Shifting winds sent massive plumes of smoke across the southern Las Vegas Valley sky. As of 3 a.m. , the cause of the fire was not known and no injuries were reported.
Harvey Weinstein’s Estranged Wife Speaks Out for First Time
Harvey Weinstein’s Estranged Wife Speaks Out for First Time Georgina Chapman was profiled for 'Vogue’s' June issue, speaking on her estranged husband for the first time since he was accused of sexual assault in October. Georgina Chapman, to Vogue Georgina Chapman, to Vogue Chapman, who has two children with Weinstein, also said she has been seeing a therapist and that has helped her move forward. Georgina Chapman, to Vogue Georgina Chapman, to Vogue Read the full profile on Chapman in Vogue’s June issue or online at
Bark-Andre Furry the dog is a Vegas Golden Knights hockey fan
The furriest fan of the NHL's Vegas Golden Knights is growing into a social media sensation. Bark-Andre Furry the Jack Russell terrier has thousands of followers on Twitter and Instagram. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Suspect Sought In Robbery Attempt
Attorney Gloria Allred on case against Benjamin Sparks
Attorney Gloria Allred is representing the victim in a "sex slave" case against GOP political consultant Benjamin Sparks.
2018 Las Vegas Review-Journal High School Journalism Awards winners
Some winners of the 2018 Las Vegas Review-Journal High School Journalism Awards receive their awards.
Weather Balloon Collects Key Data
Meteorologist Chelsea Kryston discusses the Las Vegas National Weather Service's balloon carrying a radiosonde that collects temperature, humidity and pressure readings.
'Avengers: Infinity War' to Cross $1 Billion Mark
'Avengers: Infinity War' to Cross $1 Billion Mark And it will have done so faster than any other film in history. The Anthony and Joe Russo directed film has only been in theaters for eight days since its Apr. 27 release, and it’s already raked in $905.1 million at the worldwide box office, including $338.4 million in North America. It will reach the milestone faster than ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ which took 12 days to cross over the $1 billion threshold. ‘Infinity War’ is the 34th film to cross $1 billion at the global box office, not accounting for inflation.
Henderson Residents Fighting Their HOA
Sun City Anthem residents Tim Stebbins and Bob Frank were arrested by the Henderson Police Department for filing a false report of a crime after they claimed their HOA was hiding surplus assessments in a secret slush fund. Nearly a decade later, Frank is still trying to clear his name. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UNLV Professor Retiring After 50 Years
Professor Bernard Malamud reflects on his 50 years teaching economics at UNLV and what it's been like watching to school and the city grow.
Donald Trump recognizes Jon Ponder of Hope for Prisoners
Former bank robber Jon Ponder, now CEO of Hope for Prisoners, is recognized by President Donald Trump at the White House Rose Garden. Debra J. Saunders/ Las Vegas Review-Journal
Motorcyclist suffers severe head injury
A crash early Friday morning has left a motorcyclist hospitalized with a serious head injury, according to Las Vegas police. The crash occurred in the southwest valley at Durango Drive and the 215 Beltway, and was reported around 1:30 a.m. Police are investigating and one lane of the eastbound 215 offramp has been shut down.
Woman stabbed in the stomach
Las Vegas police are looking for the suspect who stabbed a woman in the stomach during a street robbery Friday morning in the central valley. The 37-year-old woman walked into the 7-Eleven at 531 E. Sahara Ave., around 1:30 a.m. with a wound to her abdomen, according to police. She was taken to a local hospital and is expected to survive her wound. The stabber remains at-large.
Trump Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
Trump Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize Eighteen House members sent a letter to the Nobel Committee in Norway, recommending President Donald Trump for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. The letter was signed by Rep. Luke Messer and other GOP members, according to the New York Post. Letter to Nobel Committee This week, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Trump deserved the nomination, as well, for his efforts to rid North Korea of nuclear weapons. Trump is set to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un soon.
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like