Johanna Steadman, 58, and her 34-year-old daughter, Teresa Steadman, made the pleas this week in Kentville provincial court.
They will return to court next month to set trial dates on four charges: causing an animal to be in distress, failing to provide an animal with adequate food and water, failing to provide an animal with adequate medical attention, and confining an animal to an enclosure or area with unsanitary conditions.
All the charges are under the Animal Protection Act.
Jo-Anne Landsburg, the chief inspector for the Nova Scotia SPCA, said someone called the agency in August. That was about two weeks after the municipality deemed the property unsafe for habitation and ordered the Steadmans to leave.
“Normally, we can catch them in a trap relatively quickly if there are no other food sources, so that's why it took us a bit longer,” she said.
She said SPCA staff weren't sure how many cats they were looking for.
“We didn't know exactly how many, but we were finding evidence that there were more, and neighbours were telling us there were sightings of more, so we had to keep going back,” Landsburg said.
“Sometimes there were long periods in between where we wouldn't get any, but then we would get notification that there was another one in there.”
No dead animals were found during the search, she said.
Landsburg said it took longer to search the home for the animals because of debris throughout the house, which she described as a hoarding situation that made it “incredibly difficult” to move around.
“They had to wear haz-mat suits and respirators. They were literally climbing on top of piles of garbage and debris trying to find their way around,” she said.
“There was garbage, there was the smell of ammonia in there. When you go into these types of situations, you just never know what type of even human waste that you could come across as well.”
All the animals were adoptable, but she said it took some time to get them back to health.
“There were some suffering from dehydration, some from malnutrition, parasites, skin conditions, so that was all treated and we managed to find homes for them.”
The split-entry home has three of four windows in the front of the home boarded up. Items can be seen piled up in front of the large living room window.
(Local Express Canada - Jan 20, 2017)