West Bloomfield couple could get 4 years in prison after 178 cats found in home

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A West Bloomfield couple has been charged after animal control officers removed 178 cats from deplorable conditions in a suburban Detroit home last month.

Oakland County authorities say Jonathan and Jennifer Klein were arraigned Monday on one felony count each of abandonment or cruelty to animals. They have been released on bond.

If convicted, they could face four years in prison, a $5,000 fine and community service.

The Associated Press left messages seeking comment Thursday from their lawyers.

The Oakland County Animal Shelter & Pet Adoption Center says the animals were found when an animal control officer went to the home in West Bloomfield Township in April to perform a welfare check on cats at the home. At least 60 had to be euthanized because of medical problems.

Animal control officers removed the massive number of cats from the 1700 block of Elsie Drive between April 24 and May 17. As of May 21, they had humanely euthanized 60 cats due to severe illness or aggression.

"This is the worst animal hoarding case I have seen in my entire career," said Oakland County Animal Shelter & Pet Adoption Center Manager Bob Gatt. "These cats were living in deplorable conditions. They were not provided with the adequate care necessary to maintain good health."

Rachel Whitlock, an officer with Oakland County, initially responded to the block to perform a welfare check on the cats that were believed to be abandoned inside. Upon her initial inspection, she spotted at least six cats that appeared to be somewhat ill and without proper food and water. 

After talking to neighbors, a search warrant was obtained and executed on April 24. Over the course of the next few weeks, cats suffering from  a variety of health issues, including upper respiratory infections, fleas, skin infections, ear mites and malnutrition were found in the home. 

A number of cats have also given birth since arriving at the shelter.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.