WAYNESBORO -- Police wore oxygen masks to rescue 30 animals from "unlivable conditions" in a home, after getting a tip from a nurse working inside it. That house is now condemned.
In all, 25 cats, four dogs and one bird were rescued from the home at 708 North Augusta Avenue in Waynesboro.
"This house is just not livable for humans or animals," said Sergeant Brian Edwards of Waynesboro Police. "The conditions inside the house had worsened. One of the health care workers actually got sick due to the conditions inside and had to be hospitalized for a couple of weeks. So it was putting a lot of people at risk."
The home was condemned. One of its owners now is getting treatment for a mental illness. Their animals were pulled out, one at a time, from living in their own waste.
Dr. Jennifer Miller, a veterinarian who helped with the rescue, described the scene.
"It basically smells like cat urine and feces, and that's exacerbated by the heat and humidity," she said.
Officers wore splash suits and oxygen masks to search for animals in the home, where it was unsafe to breathe. Officers and vets on the scene were worried that the animals were sick, so with their waste on the ground, they all wore booties on their shoes to keep from tracking any of it with them when they left the scene.
According to police, the owners dug dirt out of their yard and used it inside the house as cat litter.
"It's just sad," Dr. Miller said. "It's sad for the people and it's sad for the animals. Animals can't take care of themselves, and we as humans have to take care of them. It's not fair to put them in this situation where they can't take care of themselves."
Vets on the scene said the animals are not in that bad of shape, and they think they will be able to save most of them and send them to good homes.
The rescue took 3.5 hours, and took its toll on the rescuers. Two officers were bitten and scratched by cats, and another worker suffered from heat exhaustion.
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