517 Cats Rescued From Sanctuary in North Central Florida
Nearly 517 cats have been removed from a controversial cat sanctuary in High Springs. It started as a Haven for unwanted cats, but authorities now label the Haven Acres Cat Sanctuary as a danger to their health.
The rescue had been nearly a month in the making. Alachua County Animal Services called in the help of the Humane Society of the United States, Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida, and the Alachua County Sheriff's Office when they served a search warrant at the Haven Acres Cat Sanctuary this morning.
When animal service teams arrived on scene at 6am, they found 517 cats in unsanitary conditions held in wire pens throughout the 8 acre property. The owners of the sanctuary, Pennie and Steve Lefkowitz, would not allow anyone else on their land while teams poured onto their property rescuing the sick cats.
Pennie Lefkowitz used to work for animal services, which is when sources tell us, she started bringing home cats to prevent them from being euthanized. The lefkowitz's have a history with the county. They applied for a second special exception permit on May, 27,2008, after the City of High Springs requested the sanctuary be shut down. The permit was approved by Alachua County Commissioners in 2009 for 200 cats on the farm, but it seems their good intentions got out of hand.
Workers with the Humane Society of the United States brought in their emergency response vehicle to transport the cats to a temporary air- conditioned warehouse where they will receive the proper treatment.
Alachua County animal services director, David Flagler, says animal services is working with the State Attorney's Office to determine whether the Lefkowitz's will face any charges.
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