A 25-year-old Farmington woman was released from custody Friday after a search of her rental home where she ran a nonprofit animal rescue operation uncovered 60 dead cats and more than 40 other neglected animals.

Caycee Bregel, who runs the Minnesota Animal Rescue, formerly called Minnesota Foster Cats, was arrested Wednesday following a complaint of a pig being loose on the property on 250th Street. Bregel also owns Next Level Fitness at 109 Elm St. in Farmington.

Agent Keith Streff with the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley said Bregel may yet be charged with animal cruelty once the investigation is complete.

Neighbors said the pig had been roaming free since February, sometimes eating out of their bird feeders.

Dakota County sheriff’s deputies executed a search warrant on the property Wednesday.

The Humane Society, which had given Bregel many of the cats, removed the animals from the residence.

Keri Bedeaux, owner of Protecting Paws Animal Rescue in Prior Lake, came to the home to help out and was admitted entrance by Bregel.

“I am still traumatized by what I saw,” Bedeaux said. She placed the pig in a sanctuary. “It was very clear that it was neglect and abuse.” She described filth, feces and food bags torn open by the cats.

Bedeaux said she thinks Bregel meant well at first, but became overwhelmed.

Tania Richter, owner of Fur-Ever Home Rescue in Zimmerman, blames the Humane Society for giving the animals to Bregel in the first place.

“I kept reporting her, but no one listened,” she said.

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Richter said Bregel received thousands of dollars in donations to help place the animals that would otherwise be euthanized.

Streff said he knew about the controversy between Bregel and other rescue groups, but could not provide details.

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