NewsCovering Kentucky


Animal protection organization shut down after complaints of abuse

Posted at 6:16 PM, Apr 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-16 18:16:03-04

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — A Jeffersonville couple is facing animal cruelty charges and possible jail time for how they treated more than two hundred cats and dogs in their care. Caring for Treasured Strays (C.A.T.S) was shut down by Montgomery County Sheriff's Deputies on Wednesday after they investigated complaints of abuse.

Renee Ann Zaharie, 60, and William Brian Zaharie, 65, were cited with a Class A misdemeanor, punishable with a fine up to $500 or up to a year in jail.

Sheriff’s deputies executed a warrant where they discovered 102 dogs and over 150 cats suffering from illnesses as disease and living in deplorable conditions.

An Independent Veterinarian and an NGO Guardians of Rescue assisted with the rescue and helped transport animals to shelters or emergency hospitals.

"All these animals have breathing issues. As each one are getting better today by the rescues and taken to the vets, you know we're discovering things like severe coccidia, giardia, severe breathing issues. Lung scarring...," said James Houchins with Guardians of Rescue.

Guardians of Rescue are looking for donations to help foot the bill for the ten small dogs who had to be hospitalized.

"You know one trip, we made $2,500 when that vet bill rang in. There were several of those that are actually still in the vet right now that are receiving fluids, receiving blood, receiving transfusions due to the amount of blood they lost, because you know the stitches weren't properly put in," said Houchins.

Renee Zaharie told LEX 18 the house that many of the animals were found in was never a permanent living situation for those animals. It was temporary while they transitioned to the much bigger space.

"We love our animals and take care of them, but definitely with COVID-19 it's been a little bit of a challenge to get people to volunteer and come out and help," said Zaharie.

She added ice storms and flooding also pushed back their timeline for the bigger space.

"Some animals are brought to us in pretty poor conditions," said Zaharie.

For Houchins, who witnessed the conditions and helped get all two hundred plus of the animals out, that answer isn't acceptable.

"It is so easy to get overwhelmed, but there's a time when you either, A. have to ask for help, or stop taking in animals. You know at this was a case where I mean she was definitely overwhelmed, you know, there was this many animals for two people to care for," Houchins said.

For other volunteers who showed up on Friday to help clean, her answer was enough.

"Her and her husband are wonderful people and you don't meet good people like this anymore and these people that want to point fingers and throw stones get your butts and get out here and do something," said Jo Grace.

Renee says by God's grace she hopes to reopen someday and is hoping for the best.