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Animal rescue owner charged after 64 cats found dead at home

The 25-year-old is facing 13 counts of animal mistreatment.

A woman from St. Paul who operated an animal rescue near Farmington has been charged after 64 cats were found dead while in her care.

More than 40 other animals were also found neglected at the rental property in Castle Rock Township in May.

Responsible for their care was Caycee Lynn Bregel, 25, who ran the nonprofit Minnesota Animal Rescue, previously known as Minnesota Foster Cats and Kittens.

She had taken in 144 cats and one dog from the Animal Humane Society, but the property in Farmington was the subject of several complaints raising concerns about the conditions they were being kept in.

One of those complaints came from the owner of the rental property, who told police they had seen cats that were "skin and bone" and had no access to food or water.

As they spoke with the owner outside the building on May 9, they noticed an "overpowering odor of animal urine and feces from inside."

When authorities, including Animal Humane Society employees, were eventually able to search the property later that day, with Bregel's permission, they found between 20-30 cats and a few dogs running loose in rooms where floors, walls and windows were covered in excrement.

In the back yard, they found cat carcasses and animals buried in shallow graves.

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The animals alive in the house were emaciated, with no food or water being provided for them in conditions described by one of the Dakota County deputies at the scene as "horrific."

Authorities returned the next day wearing protective clothing, and found dead cats being stored in freezers and refrigerators, and some 35 dead cats decomposing in the garage.

In total, they found 64 dead cats, 43 alive cats, 1 living guinea pig and 5 living dogs.

They found 17 more animals at her rescue business, also in Farmington, all of which were alive but many of which had serious health issues.

Bregel has been charged with 13 counts of animal mistreatment, one of them a felony charge.

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