Durham County man charged with 61 counts of animal cruelty

DURHAM (WTVD) -- A Durham man facing animal cruelty charges is being held on the Durham County Jail on Thursday after more than 60 cats were found in and around his home.

In January, a neighbor contacted Animal Services to report a foul smell coming from Hector Balaga's home on Bill Poole Road.

When investigators arrived, they found many cats in ill health housed in small wire cages under a "carport-like structure."

That month, Balaga voluntarily surrendered nine of his cats - five on Jan. 22 and four on Jan. 26. Balaga, 75, was arrested Wednesday after refusing to surrender any more of the 61 total cats.

All of the cats were evaluated, and most had to be euthanized because of medical issues. A few were sent to a cat rescue organization.

Balaga was held at the Durham County Detention Center under a $15,000 secured bond.

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