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Crime & Justice

Santa Ana family charged with child endangerment after 110 cats discovered in home

Animal Control officers remove dozens of cats from a home in Santa Ana.
Animal Control officers remove dozens of cats from a home in Santa Ana.
Santa Ana Police Department

Five family members are being charged with child endangerment after letting their Santa Ana home become a squalid kitty flophouse -- with all the feces, urine, spray and fleas that come from 110 cats living in one place.

The Orange County Register reports that the family members, spanning three generations, each face two counts of child endangerment for having two children under 12 living in the home under severely unsanitary conditions. All five pleaded not guilty on Wednesday.

Two of the accused, Sharon Lynn Howe, 65, and her granddaughter Courtney Lynn Howe Perez, 23, face additional charges of cruelty to animals, because apparently they were the ones keeping the animals -- some of them feral -- inside the house. ABC reports that the two women imagined the situation in their home was really a “nonprofit pet rescue” called “Cat Connection Rescue Network Inc.”

Also charged were Sharon’s husband John Ed Howe, 68, her daughter Kerri Lynn Howe Moreno, 44, and Kerri’s husband Jessy Moreno, 41. The 23-year-old woman is Kerri’s daughter.

Last month, when conditions in the home were first discovered by authorities, members of Santa Ana’s Animal Services department had to wear masks and hazmat suits as they removed the cats from the urine-soaked premises. More than 20 of the cats later had to be put down, authorities said.

A pretrial hearing for the accused is scheduled for April 19, the Register reports.