GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — The state pulled the license of a popular metro Atlanta cat rescue this week after investigators got a tip about the conditions inside Half the Way Home's temporary property in Cobb County.
That's when the state noticed the rescue had not fixed an issue the state had warned it about weeks ago.
They said the animals are getting treatment that many desperately needed while the rescue in charge of them is right now out of business.
“I was completely horrified,” former Half the Way Home volunteer Brittany Satterfield said.
Johnson got a look inside the Cobb County cottage on Friday where the rescue's treatment of cats made Satterfield notify authorities.
Half the Way Home Cat Rescue was keeping cats at the property temporarily but long enough to spark a state investigation.
“They were all laying in their own vomit and diarrhea, screaming. There’s a lot of cats that need medical care,” Satterfield said.
While the Department of Agriculture investigated, it found the rescue group in August had violated an order to not have more than 100 cats.
A spokesperson for the department told Johnson that on Thursday "a letter of violation was served which effectively suspended the license for two years."
He spoke on the phone with the rescue's attorney, who said Chief Executive Officer Dana Starr Rittelmeyer's intentions were good and denied that the cats were in bad shape.
“They’re good people. They were not hoarding cats. They were placing as many cats as were coming as were going out and, because of a few disgruntled people, they have unfortunately got shut down,” attorney Mitch Skandalakis said.
Furkids ended up taking in most of the cats.
“It's just a situation where animals needed more care and better care than they were getting,” said Susan Segars, with Furkids.
Segars told Johnson that some cats had broken bones and runny eyes and that the sick were sometimes not separated from the healthy.
Now, she said, she hope the community and other rescues can find them homes for good.
“We're going to make every one of them well if they're not well right now,” Segars said.
The attorney for Half the Way Home said the rescue plans to fundraise over the next two years and return with more structure.
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