Woman cited with animal cruelty speaks out

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)-- A Knoxville woman cited for animal cruelty after authorities say they found dozens of cats living in her basement. She says-- it's all a misunderstanding and she was not hoarding those animals.

For 9-years; Annette Traore has run the Almost Home Animal Rescue Group and she says she's never had a problem until a series of unfortunate events left her with few options.

"It was nothing I intended it just happened all at once to where I was overwhelmed and didn't know what I was going to do." said Traore

She counted on help from PetSmart to get the rescued cats adopted but that recently all changed.

Traore said "PetSmart took in the Loudon County Shelter as their store front and we got booted out."

She contacted Young Williams Animal Shelter for help only to find that the cats would be euthanized.

Left with no place for the cats, Traore brought them to her home as a temporary place until she found them new homes.

"At the same time we had 10 cats returned to us which is outrageous and doesn't usually happen." said Traore

She continued to look for permanent homes for the cats until Wednesday when the Knox County Sheriff's Department showed up at her door.

"They were banging on my door screaming this is the sheriff's office. It scared the crap out of me. I started calling my husband and the next thing I know they're tearing up the stairs with a gun drawn." said Traore

Now investigators have cited her with five counts of animal cruelty but she wants to set the record straight.

"I cared for those animals and I knew they weren't my pets. I was just trying to help them find good homes. All of these cats were fully vetted and even Young Williams said they were very socialized." Traore said.

In the end, she still wants to see the cats find good homes and hopes the community, other rescue groups or PetSmart will help out.

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