Ten cats and family removed during Lehigh Acres hoarding raid

CREATED Feb. 13, 2014

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LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. -- Fox 4 got a first-hand look at hoarding in Lee County, as officials recovered ten cats and piles of trash from a home in Lehigh Acres.  

"It's totally infested with roaches, fleas and ticks," said Lt. Angel Cruz with Lee County Domestic Animal Services.  "This doesn't happen over night."

The homeowners, who didn't want their names, faces, or actual voices shown, said the problem started five years ago when they started feeding stray cats. 

"We never really considered ourselves hoarders... it's just, everything got away from us," one of the residents said.

The couple said they would try to clean their home, but the cats would take over and soon, it spiraled out of control. 

"You tend to block things out," one said.

When asked how they could live in conditions like this, one of the family members said, "It's not easy ... we need help and we need to help ourselves."

Lee County Domestic Animal Services, Lee County Sheriff's Office, Code Enforcement and the Department of Children and Families were all called out to the home. 

Code Enforcement deemed the home "unlivable," so the family will need to find another place to stay.  They told Fox 4 they're relieved county officials showed up so they can finally get the help they've needed. 

"We can go nowhere but up from here," the resident said. 

Animal Services currently has more than 50 reports about animal hoarders in Lee County.  Many hoarding cases often involve animals.

"You see it on TV, but this is real in Lee County," Lt. Cruz said.  

A special task force has been set up to help hoarders in Lee County.  If you, or someone you know is in a hoarding situation, call 239-533-7387.