Foul odor leads to discovery and seizure of 100 cats and dogs

MORENO VALLEY — More than 100 cats and at least two dogs were removed from a Moreno Valley home yesterday morning, Monday, July 1, after deputies conducting a welfare check discovered the animals were being hoarded in the residence and kept in cramped cages under squalid and unsanitary conditions.

Based on their subsequent investigation the resident, 44-year-old, Kristen Gotangco, of Moreno Valley, was arrested and later booked at the Robert Presley Detention Center on suspicion of animal cruelty. Jail records indicate she remains in custody on $600,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned at Riverside’s Hall of Justice, tomorrow morning, July 3.


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Deputies assigned to the Moreno Valley Police Station were dispatched to a home in the 22000 block of La Jolla Circle about 7:33 a.m., to conduct a welfare check on the resident, Riverside Sheriff’s Sgt. William Stens later reported.

When deputies arrived, “they smelled a foul odor, and believed there was possibly a deceased person inside the residence,” Stens explained. 

Based on the apparent odor of decomposition, deputies entered the residence and discovered dozens of cats – many of which were stuffed into cages throughout the residence.

“Based on the overall condition of the residence, officers from Moreno Valley Animal Control and Code Enforcement were summoned to the location,” said Stens. 

Animal Control officers eventually removed approximately one hundred cats and two dogs from the residence, according to Stens.  Eighteen of the cats were either already deceased or were humanely euthanized.

Because of the number of cats in need of immediate medical attention, veterinary technicians at the city’s shelter were overwhelmed, forcing some of the cats to be transferred to another facility for treatment.

“Our first priority is to see that these animals get the proper medical care they deserve,” Animal Services Director Steve Fries has since said. “Ultimately, we want to see that each of these cats and dogs ends up adopted into loving homes.”

“Our goal is that, hopefully, once we have the ability to transfer ownership of those animals, that they have positive outcomes,” Fries continued. “We hope that they get an opportunity and a second chance for life, and that we can put them into homes where they’ll be well cared for.”

Some of the pets may be eligible for adoption in two weeks, according to Fries.

The sheriff’s investigation is ongoing and officials have asked that anyone with information regarding this investigation to contact Deputy Banuelos at the Moreno Valley Sheriff’s Station. Callers can refer to incident file number MV191820052 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s CrimeTips online form.

Contact the writer:

Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.


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