CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The owner of a Chester animal shelter found a tub filled with over a dozen kittens that were left in her abandoned building this week. Now, she is reminding local pet owners how to properly surrender animals.

Lynne Layton has been the owner of Smitty’s Cat Rescue animal shelter since 2016, but Smitty’s hasn’t been open in its original location since January. The shelter is now a foster base. Layton usually only finds trash dumped when she returns to check on the property.

“Every day I stop here to make sure that if there’s any feral cats left on the property that I did not trap, that there’s food left and that they’re fed,” Layton said. “Every day I just kind of check around.”

This week she found something disturbing. Layton went to check on the property, which is located off Route 1, on Monday. She told 8News she went inside and found a rubber tub with 14 kittens inside, covered in fleas.

“I looked down and there were faces,” Layton said. “I didn’t know at the moment that there were 14.”

Although the kittens were “well taken care of,” she said she was angry.

“What if I had not come here? Those kittens would have died in there,” Layton said.

According to Layton, she has not had this problem since the building closed this past winter. Two weeks after they left, they found four abandoned cats.

Despite the challenge of having 14 new babies, Layton says she does everything she can for the cats in her care.

“Everybody and anybody who knows me knows that if you just call, I may not be able to take those kittens right then and there, but I’m going to take those kittens when they’re old enough and get them adopted,” Layton said. “I’m going to get those mamas fixed and those daddies taken care of as well.”

Layton took the kittens home and is currently feeding them. She wants to remind other pet owners that this isn’t the route to go if you have animals you can no longer care for.

“Please do not leave cats and kittens at this location,” Layton said.

People interested in adopting the kittens will have to wait at least another three to four weeks. The kittens are currently four to six weeks old and still too young to be adopted.

Hopeful owners will be vetted after they apply to adopt. Anyone can check out the shelter’s Facebook page to stay up to date and to follow for future adoption events.