Courtesy Becky McClarran/Allegany County Animal Shelter

An animal shelter that rescues and re-homes cats in and around Baltimore is in hot water after animal control officers seized nearly 100 cats from its facility in Allegany County.

Officer John Carden of Allegany County Animal Control said on a phone call today that charges are pending against the operator of Charm City Animal Rescue, a nonprofit, volunteer-run shelter based in Cumberland. The organization’s website says its mission is to “rescue, provide care to, and re-home cats in crisis.”

But not all appears to be right at their Cumberland headquarters, according to animal control officials. This week, officers seized 97 cats from the shelter and promptly moved them to the Allegany County Animal Shelter, the county’s municipal shelter located roughly four miles away.

Charm City Animal Rescue began operating in Baltimore in October 2009, but later moved to Allegany County, Md. Despite operating about 150 miles from its namesake, the shelter says it has “an ever-growing network of foster homes based in and around Baltimore.”

Charm City Animal Rescue hasn’t returned an email requesting comment on the seizure or the pending charges.

Allegany County Animal Shelter is now much more cramped for space and supplies due to the influx of new cats, according to its executive director, Tina Rafferty. A photo shared on Facebook by the shelter’s foundation president, Becky McClarran, showed stacks of cages filled with cats in a room.

“We made it work. It has put an additional strain on our staff and volunteers with that many cats coming at once,” she said.

The municipal shelter needs help, including donations of food, blankets, litter and cleaning supplies, to accommodate the new arrivals, Rafferty said. Those who want to help can also donate money on the organization’s website.

UPDATE: Officer Carden said on Thursday that the operator of the shelter, Michelle Ingrodi, has been charged with 97 counts of animal neglect.

The charges stem not from the facility being undersized for so many animals, but rather due to “deplorable and inadequate conditions,” he said.

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Ethan McLeod

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...