"The family pulled up in a small SUV and opened the back," a representative of the rescue group wrote in a Facebook post. "It was filled with carriers to the brim. The odor was overwhelming at first, and I had no choice but to compose myself and get to work."
The Meriden Humane Society took in seven male and 13 female cats, according to WVIT.
The separation was difficult for the family.
"(The man who called the Humane Society) could barely speak,” Alysia Robinson, vice president of the Meriden Human Society, told WVIT. “He's had some of these cats for 10 years. This is not - this wasn't, I collected all these animals, and now I'm dumping them. It was genuine. It was heart-wrenching for them.”
Animal rescuers were also able to convince the family to allow the Humane Society to care for the family’s dog, Lala, a pit bull mix estimated to be around 7 years old, WVIT reported.
"It got to the point of where I was crying, because all I was thinking is that we have a cold snap coming and this family is staying in their vehicle with their dog, because it was just too much to think about letting their dog go," Robinson told WVIT.
A representative of the Humane Society wrote on Facebook that rescuers were adamant that Lala stay at the shelter, because the family was barred from staying in any local shelters with their pet.
“I begged. I pleaded. I cried my eyes out. And I made… promises that I fully intend to keep,” the representative said. “After a little anger, a lot of compassion and a whole lot of love, they finally agreed to let us care for their beloved dog.”
Humane Society Board President Kim Sauer said on Facebook that all 21 of the surrendered animals were given their vaccinations. Veterinarians noted that some of the cats had medical issues, like upper respiratory issues, possible ear infections and skin conditions.
Rescuers expect the cats to be available for adoption within the next few weeks, barring medical issues.