Snohomish County investigators thought they'd picked out all the animals when they combed though Diane and Michael Cowling's abandoned home in Granite Falls and found 31 dead dogs and cats amid a thick layer of feces and filth. But somehow they missed one.
KOMO News reports that a neighbor called police after she saw a cat sitting in the window of the house--and sure enough, there it was, starving and terrified when investigators showed up to look around for it.
Amber Chenoweth, spokesperson for Pasado's Safe Haven, an animal rescue operation that's been helping to locate the dead animals inside the Cowling home and to rehabilitate those left alive, had this to say about the cat in an email to Seattle Weekly:
The cat rescued from the Granite Falls home is young-probably 1 to 2 yrs old. She smelled of feces and urine and was severely infested with fleas. She was covered in scabs from flea bites. She is underweight but not as bad as the other three found previously. When she got a bath, the tub was full of brown water from her days of living in filth. Pasado's named her Audrey, which means strength.
Diane, a 65-year-old woman, has said that she couldn't afford to take care of the animals--a sentiment echoed by her 36-year-old son who lived in the house with her. When they couldn't pay the mortgage on the house and it went into foreclosure, she said they moved out and left the pets inside to die.
Some animals, however, appeared to have been for dead for six months or more, meaning that for quite a while, the Cowlings lived among the decomposing corpses of their pets.
Diane and Michael are currently residing in Snohomish County Jail, held on $100,000 bond and looking at about 34 counts of animal cruelty.
That number, of course, could be changed if any more starving or deceased pets are pulled from the hoarders' death sty.