What started as a well-intended shelter ended up with a few hundred cats too many.
Pennie and Steven Lefkowitz have been charged with 47 counts of animal cruelty after authorities discovered and seized the 697 felines that the couple was hoarding at their Florida animal shelter, The Gainesville Sun reports.
The Humane Society of the United States called the June 7 raid on Alachua County's Haven Acres Cat Sanctuary "the largest case of cat hoarding the organization has ever seen," according to the North Florida Herald.
Finally, on Monday night, Pennie, 59, and Steven, 65, were charged with 46 counts regarding the cats and one additional count for a rooster, all third degree felonies.
State Attorney Bill Cervone said that the couple actually had their hearts in the right place before they became overwhelmed by caring for the mass of cats.
“I view this as a case of hoarding,” Cervone told The Gainesville Sun. “These people started out well intentioned ... but they were in way, way, way over their head. I am optimistic we will be able to resolve something with them that will address the mental health issues that I believe they have and prevent a recurrence.”
Pennie made a similar point in an earlier interview.
"I was just tired of seeing so much euthanasia and wanted to know what we could do personally," she said in June, according to MSNBC.
An adopt-a-thon is scheduled for Aug. 26-28.