36 Cats Abandoned At Motel, Pet Owner Charged

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Payson police found 36 cats abandoned at a local motel room Wednesday, with plenty more neglected animals to be discovered.

By the end of the day, 100 felines, two dogs, seven rabbits and one horse a total of 110 neglected animals were collected by Gila County animal-control officers.

Meanwhile, their owner, 40-year-old Lisa Harmon of Mesa Del, was arrested and charged with 96 misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals by neglect or abandonment, 96 felony counts of cruel neglect or abandonment which results in serious physical injury to the animal, and one count of criminal damage due to the condition of the motel room.

According to Sgt. Craig A. Smith of the Gila County Sheriff's Office, animal control authorities had spent the last week attempting to contact Harmon.

In an alleged attempt to hide the animals, Smith said, Harmon took 36 of her 100 cats and rented a local motel room.

The following day, animal control officers learned of the cats' whereabouts, and the sheriff's department obtained search warrants for both the motel room and Harmon's residence, where the dogs, rabbits, horse and the rest of the cats were found.

The animals have been transported to the Maricopa Animal Control Center in Phoenix, Smith said, "because the local humane society doesn't have the facilities to hold this many animals."

The animals are not healthy, Smith said, "and the conditions they were living in at the motel were deplorable. Right now we're trying to get a status on each and every animal."

As to the damage done to the motel room, "You can imagine what 36 cats can do in just one day, especially without a cat box," Smith said.

"The carpet was damaged, the beds, the pillows, the sheets, the comforters."

The animals found at Harmon's home, the sergeant said, also had been neglected.

"The dogs were in bad condition, the rabbits were about as bad as the cats. The horse which has been picked up by a friend of (Harmon's) didn't appear to be too bad.

"There was no food available to any of the animals at the house, but there was water."

Harmon has been transported from Payson Jail to Globe. She is being held in lieu of a $2,500 bond.

"We do have a psychological exam planned for her," Smith said.

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