Catnapped: Owner of rescue fighting for felines she says were stolen

NEW RICHMOND, OH (FOX19) - The owner of a cat rescue in New Richmond is fighting to get back two cats she says were stolen from her shelter.

That owner says she gave three cats to a couple that offered to help during the recent flood -- and the couple euthanized one of the kittens and now refuses to return the other two.

Ollie Darnell's life is dedicated to her cats; she says she rescues them from the streets and from hoarding situations.

"Come on kids," Darnell called to the cats as she gave them a round of treats.

Darnell has 35 cats of her own and cares for more than 80 in a New Richmond shelter.

She is doing all she can to bring two of her "babies," -- Natty and Ginger -- back home after she says she trusted a couple who claimed it wanted to help. She says a husband and wife visited the rescue back when New Richmond was threatened with severe flooding.

"She come in and she said, 'Oh my, these cats! Three of these have boogery noses, and we'll take them to the vet because you probably won't get out,'" Darnell said. "We were kind of hustling. I said, 'OK, that's nice. I'd appreciate that.'"

The couple took three cats -- Natty, Ginger and Casper. All were battling upper respiratory infections.

Darnell didn't have time to get them to the vet and says the couple promised to bring the cats back after the flood waters receded.

After several calls to the couple, she learned Casper would never come back home.

"She went straight from here to the vet and had it euthanized," Darnell said.

The woman hasn't been charged. She declined to do an interview, but said that the cat had a fatal disease called FIP -- feline infectious peritonitis, a gastrointestinal virus -- and she followed the advice of the vet to put it down.

"It hurts me every time I think about it," Darnell said. "Especially Casper. I do hope the other two are still alive."

The woman says she is still caring for the cats and that they are now in a better home. She told police that she has spent more than $6,000 for their care and she is working to shut the rescue down.

"Her reasoning for not bringing them back is my place is filthy here. It's full of diseases," Darnell said.

The Clermont County Warden was called out to inspect the rescue and did not find any violations. Now Darnell is pleading with the couple to return her kitties.

"I've lost 12 pounds since this happened," Darnell said. "I can't eat. I can't sleep. I've cried for days over Casper and it's been a rough not having him here."

Police have talked to all the people involved and say this is a civil matter.

Darnell assured the fight isn't over. She is now working with an attorney to get her cats back.