LOVELAND — Authorities arrested a 38-year-old woman after they found 74 ringworm-infected cats living in a motorhome with her.
Alexis Binns, who lives in the Riverview Campground near Big Thompson Elementary School, now faces 74 counts of cruelty to animals, a charge that carries a maximum punishment of 111 years in jail and $370,000 in fines. Most convictions carry penalties far lower, however.
Binns was also charged with aggravated motor vehicle theft, a class three felony that carries a maximum punishment of 12 years in jail and $750,000 in fines, after Larimer County Sheriff’s deputies recovered a vehicle in her yard that had been reported stolen in Fort Collins.
Binns was arrested Sept. 1 and later released on a $12,000 bond. Eloise Campanella, a spokeswoman with the sheriff’s office, said she will appear in court for the misdemeanor charges in November.
Sheriff’s deputies arrived at Binns’ unit in the Riverview Campground for a welfare check when they noticed a suspicious odor coming from her motorhome. That’s when they found the 74 animals, most of which Larimer Humane Society officials said have ringworm and upper respiratory infections.
The manager at Riverview Campground would not comment on the case.
The 74 cats, 22 of which are younger than 6 months old, are under quarantine at the Larimer Humane Society in Fort Collins.
Binns must pay $300 per cat — $22,200 total — every 30 days during the court proceedings to maintain ownership of her pets, Cary Rentola, a spokeswoman with the Larimer Humane Society, said. The Humane Society uses that money to care for the cats, she said.
Binns has until Monday to pay the $22,200 or she will forfeit ownership of the animals, she said. Humane Society officials have not heard her decision, Rentola said.
There is no limit to the number of cats someone can have unless they are not properly cared for or are creating a nuisance to neighbors, Rentola said.
“But when you have 74 animals living in an RV, it’s difficult for them to have space to play and exercise and run around,” she said. “The majority are ill and undersocialized.”
She said humans can contract ringworm, a skin disease that causes itching and baldness. Upper respiratory diseases are transmitted easily among cats and can make the cats lethargic.
Rentola also said the Humane Society is accepting donations to help care for the cats. For information on how to donate money, visit www.larimerhumane.org.