ROCK HILL, S.C. -- A non-profit animal shelter is being forced to shut down amidst concerns the director is hoarding cats; but she already has plans to open a new shelter in the near future.
A York County judge gave Saint Francis Animal Rescue until March 18 to get rid of the more than 150 cats currently living there. The tiny shelter had been flagged by Animal Control in 2011 after it received complaints about conditions and the number of cats being housed there. St. Francis is a no-kill facility that allows cats to roam freely around the building. No cages or crates are used.
Animal Control agents said they inspected St. Francis several times over the past year, giving organizers specific instructions on how to meet set standards. Monday, it was determined those standards were not met.
The Humane Society of York County took in twenty cats from St. Francis Rescue. The agency did not have room for anymore than that at the time. Other animal rescue volunteers from around the county expressed concern over what they called a “hoarding situation.”
St. Francis Rescue Director Charlene Rodriguez said she did not show up for court Monday because she was receiving medical treatment. Rodriguez believed her shelter was being portrayed unfairly.
“The fact that they say it doesn’t make it so,” said Rodriguez, when asked if she was a hoarder, “Hoarders gather and hold on to; we are trying to rescue and pass on. Our goal is to adopt these cats into good homes.”
She admitted there were too many cats, but cited slow adoption seasons as the main reason behind the overcrowding. Rodriguez also agreed the shelter had outgrown its current space
Rodriguez said she had already planned to move St. Francis to land she’d purchased outside the Rock Hill city limits. She claimed the shelter would consist of several modular buildings that would give the cats more room in the future.
She is due back in court March 19 so the judge can verify the current location has been closed.