A St. Petersburg man was charged with animal cruelty Sunday after a visitor to his home found four 6-week-old kittens in a freezer.
Eve Mulder, 38, was visiting Rodney J. Blanchard, 38, when he asked her to get a beer from a freezer at his house, deputies said.
"All of a sudden I hear meowing and I was not expecting kittens in there," Mulder said. "It really freaked me out."
According to deputies, when she did not find any beer, Blanchard told Mulder that there were kittens inside the freezer.
When Mulder attempted to remove the kittens – which were in individual sandwich bags on the bottom shelf – Blanchard pushed her and told her to leave, deputies said.
Mulder then contacted deputies, who responded to the house and heard the kittens' meows as they approached the freezer.
One kitten, a calico with white markings, was dead, deputies said, and three others – orange and white in color – were alive.
Deputies gathered all four and wrapped them in a blanket to keep them warm. Deputies further observed the kittens were covered with fleas and were cold to the touch and shaking; and one of the orange and white kittens was having difficulty breathing.
Deputies transported the kittens to an animal hospital for further care, and they are now in custody of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
An adult cat was found unharmed and is in SPCA custody. Two other outdoor cats were found near the home and are unharmed.
Blanchard faces four counts of felony cruelty to animals and one count of misdemeanor battery. He was transported to the Pinellas County Jail.
News Channel 8 reporter Peter Bernard contributed to this report.