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Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
One of the kittens peers out of its cage. Five cats found in a suitcase inside a Dumpster in West Jordan, a mother and her four kittens were found by an employee of the Jordan River Animal Hospital on Saturday. The cats were taken to the West Jordan animal Shelter and will be available for adoption after a five-day waiting period.

SALT LAKE CITY — Megan Slizeski and her fellow technicians at Jordan River Animal Hospital were taking out the trash Saturday when they found a lone kitten on top of the Dumpster outside the hospital.

When they heard what sounded like meowing coming from the trash, they investigated further, only to find three more kittens and their mother in a square, purple suitcase that was duct-taped all the way around. 

"I just dove in there and helped the kittens, Slizeski said. "You know Jordan River Animal Hospital, all we do is care about animals. It was just horrifying. All the technicians on staff were just horrified by the experience that we've seen. These poor animals were just left to die." 

Dr. Terry Silkman, the veterinarian who owns the hospital, said he could only imagine the fate the animals would have met if left undiscovered. 

"These kitties' fate was either to be cooked to death based on the temperatures that were out there that day or to starve or thirst to death or be crushed when the Dumpster got picked up in a couple of days with the trash," he said.

Slizeski named the first kitten Oliver and decided to adopt him. She said she was grateful things turned out the way they did. 

"If they would have been left there by today, the Dumpster would have been taken by the garbage truck, and they'd have been gone," she said Mondah. "I mean, they're lucky that we have them."

He described the incident as "disappointing," and said whoever dumped the kittens could just as easily have turned them over to the hospital for care. Still, he said what happened is not totally uncommon. 

"This kind of act is not something that's foreign to this profession," Silkman said. "We do see it. Probably more than we want to see it." 

This was seconded by Slizeski, who said it was a reminder of what good can be done as opposed to things similar to this. 

"People are heartless, and they do this all the time," she said. "We all need to be well aware that there are animals out there that need our help."

Though the mother was a "little lean," the animals were generally in good condition and appeared to be comfortable interacting with humans. Silkman said the kittens were approximately 2 months old. 

"They don't appear to be abused, destitute or emaciated," Silkman said. "They appear to be kitties that were able to find food and water and sustenance pretty well." 

He issued a reminder that there are a number of options for those who have pets they don't feel they can care for. 

"You look at these kitties and and you see how nearly perfect they are and there certainly would have been better alternatives to the fate they would have suffered if somebody had not found them," Silkman said. 

He said the hospital will try to have the remaining kittens adopted either through his hospital or county animal control services. 

Contributing: Mike Anderson

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam