RIVERSIDE, Mo. - An animal neglect charge was recently handed down against the owner of Street Cats Rescue in Riverside after police discovered awful odors and 50 cats inside cages, some of which suffered from poor health.
According to court documents, police made the discovery at the store on West Platte Road last summer after a complaint from a person who reported animal hoarding inside.
The court documents describe strong odors of feces and urine coming from the business, and cats being found in such poor health that they had to be euthanized.
Eight cats in total had to be put down, while more than 20 were found to be suffering from things like tapeworm and parasites.
Officers also said they found fire code violations inside the store.
The court documents describe how 39-year-old owner Susan Gabel was running her shop without a proper permit.
On Thursday, nearby business owners told 41 Action News the conditions they claimed to have witnessed.
"People would come in and say, 'What is going on? What is that smell?' I'd have to point next door," explained Kim Martinez, a manager at Smokes 4 Less. "We'd burn candles. We'd burn incense and leave the door open most of the time."
Upon hearing the news of eight cats having to be euthanized, Martinez said she was heartbroken.
"That's terrible. They don't deserve that. They deserve to be in nice homes with food and water and somebody that loves them and takes care of them," she explained. "She [Susan Gabel] doesn't deserve to run a business with animals. That's for sure."
The storefront that used to house Street Cats Rescue is now home to a new barbershop.
Haircutz for Breakupz owner Parker Watkins told 41 Action News that after taking control of the space in January, he could tell the store front needed work.
"The smell was terrible," he explained. "The smell reeked for weeks."
Even after officers removed the cats from the premises, Watkins claimed he found some of the animals around his store.
"I had cats in the ceiling," he told 41 Action News. "I had a dropped ceiling and there were cats in the ceiling. One would get up there and bounce."
Gabel now faces at least one count of animal neglect.
41 Action News stopped by Gabel's listed address on Thursday but was unable to get a comment.
Her next court appearance in the case is scheduled for May 9.