It took more than six months to coax Diane Carle out of her home. Authorities had heard complaints for weeks about all the filthy cats roaming her front porch, and no one had seen inside her house -- not ever.
But when authorities finally obtained probable cause for animal cruelty and pried open the doors of her Lake Worth house, what they found was so disgusting that they had to proceed with gas masks and quarantine garb. There were 141 cats inside, some dead, most dying.
We often hear talk of "cat ladies." Well, listen, Carle isn't a, she is the cat lady. Single ladies, don't fret: THIS WILL NEVER BE YOU NO MATTER HOW LONG YOU'RE ALONE.
Our conversation with authorities went down like this:
New Times: Hey, it's New Times. We heard about the cats: It's crazy!
Authorities: It is crazy!
New Times: Crazy!!!
Authorities: ... Did you have any questions?
In fact, we did. Like, what the hell happened?
Turns out, Carle -- who is a bus driver with the Palm Beach County School District -- is a tad of a hoarder. There were files and knickknacks all about the house; nothing in, nothing out. Not even light or air from the outside world.
The cats were locked inside their own filth, for who knows how long. "Picture the urine from 130 cats in just one day, and if you're not cleaning it up?" said David Walesky, operations manager for the Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control. "And they were trapped inside the house."
Six of the cats were dead, and Carle had stored them in her freezer. Of the more than 130 living cats, only 20 were healthy.
And then something really, really sad happened. So sad, in fact, that it makes us regret some of those jokes we made earlier. The cats were so sick and feral that the humane society had to euthanize almost all of them.
Carle, meanwhile, hasn't been arrested yet. But Walesky contends charges of animal cruelty will be filed against her in a matter of weeks. It's unclear whether she's still driving her bus.