- Associated Press - Friday, September 19, 2014

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) - A 54-year-old Butte man has denied animal cruelty charges filed after Butte-Silver Bow County health officials found nearly 100 cats abandoned in a house in deplorable conditions.

Douglas Dean Billman pleaded not guilty to seven felony charges of aggravated animal cruelty during an appearance in District Court on Thursday. He remains free on a previously posted $17,000 bond.

Neighbors’ complaints about the smell led to the discovery. Prosecutors say Billman confined the cats, failed to meet their general care needs and eventually abandoned them in July. Some were found dead and others had to be put down due to illness.

The rental house was demolished just over a week ago.

Chelsea Bailey animal shelter supervisor Jacki Casagranda says about 40 of the rescued cats are available for adoption.

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