Update 4/12/18 – The man who allegedly left nine cats inside a Palm Springs storage unit pleaded not guilty to animal-cruelty charges yesterday. Douglas John Yates, 55, has also been charged in the death of a dozen dogs that were found inside a stolen U-Haul truck in Thousand Palms, Calif., in February. He was arrested on Feb. 15 and now faces more than 20 felony animal-cruelty counts in addition to being charged with burglary and receipt of stolen property in relation to the two cases, according to a source.
According to investigators, Yates rented the truck from Blythe Freeway Towing in Blythe, Calif., on Jan. 15, but failed to return it. The company reported the vehicle missing the following week. Yates was contacted by police during the investigation, which led to the location of the truck on Varner Road. The cause of animals’ death wasn’t disclosed.
Yates posted the $10,000 bail and is free with a stipulation that he can’t care for or have custody of any animals. He’s pleaded not guilty to all charges and is scheduled to appear in court on May 9 for a felony-settlement conference, a source reported.
In 2006, Yates pleaded guilty to misdemeanor animal-cruelty charges involving emaciated dogs and cats that were being kept inside a rental home in La Quinta, Calif. Yates was staying in the home while working as a contractor. Animal-control officers were called to the residence after a report of abandoned canines, who were found without food and water. Officers also found feces “scattered over the floor,” according to an animal-control report. The homeowners later told investigators that Yates had brought seven cats into the home without their permission. The animals were diagnosed with “emaciation, dehydration and malnutrition” by a veterinarian, the source reported.
6/20/2017 – Nine cats were found earlier this month locked inside a unit at a StorAmerica Self Storage facility in Palm Springs, Calif. All of the animals were contained in crates. One of them died before being rescued, while the others were taken to the Palm Springs Animal Shelter and are doing well, according to the source.
The cats were discovered after Lora Mattal, a tenant at 4550 E. Mesquite Ave., heard faint meows coming from the unit on June 7, a day when the temperature reached 102 degrees. She alerted the facility’s managers and was told they had called the renter.
Three days passed without any action, so Mattal took matters into her own hands, using bolt-cutters to cut the lock. "I [opened] the door and there [were] nine cats locked in cages. One of them was dead, and his foot was stuck in the cage because he had been trying to get out,” she said, adding the death might have been avoided had facility management responded faster.
A post on the unit door from animal control stated the cats were found without water and some had matted fur. The Palm Springs Police Department is investigating the crime, but no charges have been filed. A StorAmerica manager told the source the tenant has been given a vacate notice.
StorAmerica is a subsidiary of Guardian Storage Centers, a privately held firm headquartered in Irvine, Calif. Guardian and its affiliates own and operate 66 storage facilities in Arizona and California.