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Cats found

The Delaware Street rental home where an animal horder kept nearly 100 cats was in such poor condition that the owner will have to demolish it.

BUTTE — County officials have deemed a house rented by a cat hoarder unlivable and ordered the Delaware Street home be demolished.

“The house was in such disrepair. It couldn’t be cleaned to be inhabitable,” said Dan Powers, assistant health director for Butte-Silver Bow.

“Demolition was the only option.”

Powers said the homeowner is working to get everything in line before the house is torn down. The owner, who has been fully cooperating, will have to foot the bill, which will be from $5,000 to $10,000, he said.

The structure, which was feces-coated and dilapidated, will be disassembled and taken to the demolition area of the county landfill.

The man accused of hoarding the animals has yet to appear on seven felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty.

Douglas Dean Billman, 54, may be forced to reimburse the county for veterinary care and housing of all the living cats rescued from his rental home. He is free on $17,000 bond.

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Prosecutors say Billman confined the cats in a cruel manner, failed to meet general care needs and ultimately abandoned the animals at the home.

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About 50 of the cats that lived in the small house got were spayed or neutered last week. While they are not yet available for adoption, the local shelter is looking for potential homes for both barn cats and house pets.

Their health has grown leaps and bounds since they were taken from what some officials described as one of the worst cat-hoarding cases in Butte history. Nearly 100 cats, dead and alive, were found in the house. Some of the animals had to be put down due to severe illness.

The last time officials dealt with a large cat hoard was three years ago. That residence also had to be torn down.

“This isn’t the first ride down this road, unfortunately,” Powers said.

In 2011, an Arizona Street duplex that once housed more than 60 cats was demolished after it was deemed a health hazard.

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