Vet hospital rescues 30 cats stuffed in an SUV

The staff at Good Hope Animal Hospital outside Harrisburg has cared for pets belonging to motorists whose cars are being serviced at the neighboring Pep Boys before.

But usually it's just one animal.

Imagine the surprise - and horror - Holly Dupont felt when she peered into the broken down Jeep belonging to a New Jersey man on Thursday and saw 30 emaciated cats - including newborn kittens - crammed in the back, dying of heat exposure.

The man, whom Hampden Township police identified as 26-year-old John Molnar, III, is facing 30 counts of animal cruelty after the veterinary staff removed the feces-and-urine-covered cats from the sweltering vehicle.

Molnar was sent over to the animal hospital by mechanics who saw the animals when he brought his Jeep in the shop. With temps in the 90s, the vehicle had been sitting in the hot sun while Molnar sat in the air conditioned service center.

Dupont said he told her he had "a couple of cats" in the car, but when she pressed him he said she should bring a lot of boxes. Then he started counting on his fingers and said "about 20."

In fact, there were 30 cats.

When she opened the back hatch of the SUV she saw cats "piled on top of each other" in a wire dog crate. Another small crate held a mother cat, three newborns and five more cats about 10-12 weeks old.

"They looked near death," said Dupont, who supervises the technical staff at the hospital in Mechanicsburg. 

When confronted by police, Molnar at first said he was transporting the cats to Texas for someone else but then broke down and said they were his cats and he was moving. He then relinquished ownership to the vet hospital.

Amazingly the cats - even the newborns - who were also suffering from upper respiratory problems, began recovering quickly from their ordeal after receiving food, water and medical treatment.

The hospital is keeping the cats, most of whom are comfortable around people, at an empty storefront next door to their office, but the stranded felines have to be out by Monday. As of midday Friday six of the cats had already been adopted, Dupont said. Two more wild cats will be spayed and live with others in a feral colony she manages.

Dupont said Humane Society of Harrisburg Area which serves townships in Cumberland County, but whose contract with Hampden includes stray dog control not cats, refused to help with the cats or send out a humane officer.

But local rescues including Compassionate Heart Animal Rescue, and Castaway Critters are pitching in.

"Thank God he broke down in front of our office," said Dupont.

Anyone interested in adopting a cat (or giving the kind-hearted staff at Good Hope some well-deserved props) may call Good Hope at 717-766-5535. Dupont says she will monitoring phones at extension 109 this weekend.