Officials say a Minneapolis woman was trying to help dozens of animals in need, but several cats and dogs had to be rescued after Animal Control was notified about deplorable conditions inside.
The house, located in the 2400 block of Jefferson Street in northeast Minneapolis, is now boarded up and has been deemed unfit for human habitation.
"Those animals were not having a fun time in there -- the fighting, the hissing, the clawing," said Elizabeth Backdahl.
Backdahl told FOX 9 News she spent hours watching Animal Control officers remove dozens of cats -- alive and dead -- from the house across the street, and she said the sight left her feeling a bit heartbroken.
"I can't imagine someone would have that many animals in a small house like that," she said.
In all, workers removed 38 cats, 20 dead cats and four dogs from the home on Tuesday afternoon. The surviving pets were taken to the Minneapolis Animal Control Shelter, which is where they will be evaluated to see if they can be put up for adoption.
"I thought about it when I went to bed last night -- it's the first thing I thought about when I got up this morning," Backdahl said.
Investigators came to the house after a probation officer found the woman was living in filth.
"It sounds like it was cluttered with newspapers and feces and urine from the animals themselves," said Sgt. Steve McCarty, with the Minneapolis Police Department. "Very unsanitary, and not very pleasant living conditions."
Experts say in many animal hoarding cases, those who believe they are helping their furry friends end up causing them more harm than good when they take on too many to care for. Backdahl described the woman as reclusive, but said she still wishes she could have done something before it was too late.
"I feel so bad, so bad about it," she said. "On my own block."