Just Before Six: Legal action against couple for taking in too many cats

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On Tuesday, we told you about a South Bend family dealing with an ongoing problem with their neighbors, who have harbored too many cats in the past. The family says the couple next door continues this practice even after complaints.

More than 80 cats were removed from their neighbor’s house in the last two years.

The City of South Bend tells Newscenter 16 they have been looking into the property since 2010. Less than two weeks ago, a lawsuit was filed.

The city is asking the homeowners to give up the cats because they have broken several city codes, according to court documents.

The house is described as a “safe zone for cats” by the people who live there.

But, a lawsuit filed on June 27 paints a different story. The documents state that this property has been a problem spot for South Bend Animal Care and Control for three years. The court papers offer details on more than 40 cats being removed from the property just last year.

Newscenter 16 stopped by the house to ask the homeowner for comment. While he did not want to do an on-camera interview, he said that they have done nothing wrong. Instead, he said he feels that they are just looking out for the cats and even try to find them homes.

“The city kills cats, that’s the whole problem,” he said. “[My wife] has been taking care of animals for years.”

But, that care is brought into question on the pages of the lawsuit. It references “odors and unhealthy conditions” for the cats inside the house.

A warrant for inspection and seizure was even issued last year to go into the property and check on the animals.

Pictures of the cats taken out of this house by the Michiana Feral Cat Initiative illustrate the bad conditions the animals were in. The group got them medical treatment and many of the cats were adopted.

The lawsuit also alleges that the homeowners violated the “three pet limit” in place in South Bend.

Now, the city is asking a judge to require this couple to surrender all of their cats and issue a permanent injunction against them attracting or harboring any animals. This move would mean that the couple won’t be allowed to keep any animals at their house in the future.

There is also mention that if these measures are not taken, the city believes the couple will continue to house too many cats.

According to the South Bend Legal department, this is the only way to protect the health and welfare of the neighborhood.

The court documents are attached to this article.

If there are feral cats in your neighborhood, the Humane Society suggests trapping, neutering and spaying then returning them to the area to keep the population under control.

There are low-cost spay/neuter clinics in our community, such as ABC Clinic in Granger.

The City of South Bend said residents can also set out capture cages and contact South Bend Animal Care and Control to pick up the animal.