William Hood (Courtesy: Sevier Co. Sheriff's Office)
SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A Sevierville man stands accused of apparently leaving dozens of cats to fend for themselves at a home on Edgewater Court, according to the Sevier County Humane Society.
“The conditions that the cats were living in were horrific," said Executive Director Jayne Vaughn. "It appeared that they had been abandoned for a significant amount of time... The surviving cats had resorted to primal, instinctive means to stay alive.”
William Allen Hood was charged with one count of Aggravated Cruelty to Animals, the organization said. He was arrested on June 7.
Of the 26 cats officials found in home when they arrived on May 27, only eight of them were still alive. The other 18 were reportedly dead and in various states of decomposition.
“This case was particularly difficult for me and my staff due to the large number of dead animals present," Vaughn explained. "This is the first time in my 20 years of working in animal welfare that I have recovered more dead animals than live ones from a cruelty scene."
"The cruelness of abandoning animals like this to live in filth and starve to death is reprehensible,” she added.
Vaughn said she believes the cats who died starved to death.
All of the surviving cats were removed from the location and are being treated for dehydration, emaciation, flea infestation, and anemia.
"They are responding very well to loving care and treatment by my dedicated staff," Vaughn said. "We expect them all to recover from their ordeal."
"Their emotional challenges outweigh their physical ones at this time," she added.
Kathy Blalock lives a few doors down from Hood's former home and has two cats of her own. She said she's outraged about what happened.
"Even now, I still cry about them. And we can't get over it - I even have nightmares about it," said Blalock.
Others neighbors are upset, too:
"It's pretty bad, you know. Just right up here around the corner is an animal shelter. He could have taken them there, to those people," said Brent Jones.
The eight rescued kitties are expected to be okay and the humane society expects to adopt them out to good homes.