A Myrtle Beach woman says she was wrongfully charged with mistreating animals and a nuisance violation after police counted 29 cats and three dogs in her apartment, which an officer said reeked of feces and cat urine.
The smell was there before she got there, Shaye Creamer says, and she took most of the cats in to save them from a hard life on the streets.
“I have been wronged and so have the animals in which I have spent the last 10 years of my life with,” Creamer said.
Creamer says she was working to find a home for the cats when a Myrtle Beach animal control officer stopped by her 26th Avenue South apartment on Feb. 18. Officer B. Ewing counted 14 cats on her first visit and gave Creamer four days to find a home for the felines and clean the apartment. If the jobs weren’t done, Ewing warned the cats would be seized on her next visit.
Creamer gave 17 cats to a rescue volunteer two days later. Then Ewing returned and found 12 cats.
Myrtle Beach police seized 10 cats from Creamer’s home Feb. 22, but allowed her to keep the dogs and two of the senior cats.
“I have owned five of those cats and all of those dogs for their entire lives,” Creamer said.
One of the cats taken, she said, belonged to her daughter, who Creamer says is attending college and is now “heartbroken.”
“I bottle fed four out of five of those cats, including the two senior cats in which I was allowed to keep, and they are in perfect health or they would not have been left with me,” Creamer said. “I brought in the other cats … with nothing but good intentions to find them homes and to save them from a life of struggle that feral cats endure.”
Creamer’s Facebook page is loaded with posts she’s shared on animal welfare and animal rights.
“You can’t tell me it isn’t atrocious and inhumane that they can throw animals in a cold metal cage and take them from the only person whom has shown them love,” she said. But Creamer claims that’s what happened in her case.
Animal Control Officer B. Ewing said she “received a phone call from the fire marshal’s office in reference to a subject having 20+ cats in one apartment and that the environment was so bad that maintenance men refused to go in it to work,” according to an incident report.
Ewing responded to the apartment Feb. 18 and “made a quick count of 14 cats just in the main room and kitchen,” an incident report stated. There were two rooms, Ewing couldn’t check, according to the report.
Ewing said that none of the cats appeared malnourished, but several appeared to have “runny and crusty faces.”
Creamer showed Ewing a vial of “‘eye meds,’ which was close to empty,” but couldn’t “seem to provide any veterinary documentation,” according to the report.
Creamer says she was never asked for any veterinary documentation. She contends the vial was close to empty because she was using it to treat the cats as prescribed.
“The next day … I returned to the vet and received five more vials of the same medication to continue treatment on the cats I had taken in,” Creamer said.
Ewing noted in her report that “there was a strong pungent odor of feces and ammonia” or cat urine inside the apartment. Three litter boxes “were absolutely overflowing,” Ewing stated in the report.
“I have letters from the apartment manager and several residents saying the smell was here long before me,” Creamer said.
But Creamer was still cited and requested a jury trial to fight the charges earlier this month. No date has been set for the trial.
“They weren’t even going to charge me with anything if I would have surrendered the 10 cats but I refused to,” Creamer said.
The 10 cats were sent to the Grand Strand Humane Society.