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Group rescues 19 cats from condemned Fargo home; man left homeless

Fargo - When Carol Stefonek received a call about rescuing 19 cats from a condemned home, she didn't hesitate in her response.

"I just couldn't sleep when I found out," said Stefonek, co-director of Minn-Kota PAAWS. "What amazed me was how fast people responded to the animal situation, but the man living there is now homeless."

When Stefonek arrived at the home on Seventh Street and 15th Avenue North, the garage of the home had already been torn down.

"They started taking this house down Monday and were supposed to have it finished at 10 a.m. Tuesday," said Gail Ventzke of Moorhead. "They were very helpful in giving us the time to get the cats out."

The house was clearly uninhabitable, said Ventzke, a PAAWS volunteer.

"You could smell the urine from the street," she said. "I almost threw up in my hand when I came out of that house."

The occupant of the condemned home, Lee Seley, was most concerned with where his cats would end up, Stefonek said.

"That man was sleeping under his truck on a dirty mattress when we got there," she said. "What I'm wondering is who do you call to rescue people?"

All 19 of the cats that were rescued from the house were in healthy condition. One cat had a swollen paw but was otherwise unharmed, Ventzke said.

"They are all very friendly cats. Some are scared, but they are pretty sociable, considering," she said. "After a seven-day quarantine, they will be up for adoption."

After rescuing almost 20 cats, Stefonek wasn't finished with the situation.

"When he told me his only concern was for his cats, and I saw he was sleeping under his car, I couldn't believe it. I told him, you have to take care of yourself, too."

After an apparent refusal to seek help from a shelter, Stefonek said she would get Seley a motel room for the night.

"I can't just leave him out there," she said. "I'll sleep better knowing he has somewhere to stay."

To get information on adopting or fostering a cat from Minn-Kota PAAWS, call (701) 356-7877.

Donations are accepted and can be brought or mailed to 25 21st St. S., Fargo.