CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — Animal shelter workers in Chesterfield say they are overwhelmed by a recurring problem in the county: people abandoning cats on the highway and at shelters.

Lynne Layton, the director at Smitty’s Cat Rescue Shelter, told 8News Thursday that someone dumped 24 cats at her shelter and drove off the day before. She said that people leave perfectly healthy cats at her shelter on a daily basis.

“Heartless. The only word to describe what people are doing to cats and dogs is heartless,” said Layton.

Someone dumped more than 20 adult cats by her place. Layton said by the time she went outside to see what happened, the driver had pulled off.

“Out came cats,” she explained. “Not kittens, cats. They just scattered. I don’t have the time or the resources to track these people down. At least they left them here.”

Layton told 8News it was not the first time that it’s happened.

“It is an everyday occurrence here,” she said. “Last week there were nine left over by that old house. These kittens were just left in their own feces and urine.”

The Animal Services Manager with Chesterfield County told 8News that animal abandonment is a class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia. If authorities find someone purposely injured an animal, it could be considered animal cruelty.

Officials say the county doesn’t take in owner surrenders because of the high volume of strays, sick and injured cats already in the shelter.

Here is list of humane societies provided by the Chesterfield Police Department: (Rescue groups take animals by appointments. Please contact them for more information)

  • AARF (Animal Adoption and Rescue Foundation) 804-254-0800
  • Caroline Humane Society 804-867-7534
  • Chesterfield Humane Society 804-920-1084
  • Hanover Humane Society 804-798-0806
  • Henrico Humane Society (For cats)
  • Henrico Humane Society (For dogs)
  • Hopewell Humane Society (Cats only) 804-458-7303
  • Richmond Hero (Spay/Neuter of Feral Cats) 804-788-4376
  • Richmond SPCA (Owner Surrenders by Appointment Only) 804-521-1306
  • Richmond Animal League (Owner Surrenders by Appointment Only) 804-379-0046
  • Southside SPCA 434-736-9595