Wednesday, March 8, 2006
Help Me Howard: Dead Cow
A dead cow is smelling up a South Florida neighborhood after it's left decaying in a pasture for over a week. Homeowners near by can't get anyone to get rid of the carcass. Can Help Me Howard? Seven's Patrick Fraser with the story.
WSVN--It's almost a perfect situation for some people... close to the city, with the quiet of the country.
Hilda Rodriguez: "In the city with the country close to you."
Hilda Rodriguez's North Miami-Dade house not only has a country view, she has cows to gaze at.
Hilda Rodriguez: "I like cows. And at first I thought it was like feeling like living in the country."
Everything was nice... till one of the cows got sick.
Hilda Rodriguez: "We walked over and she couldn't get up. She wasn't getting up."
She called the police, they called someone who examined the cow.
Hilda Rodriguez: "I came and I asked them, is she going to be OK? Nothing was said."
Later that afternoon, the cow died.
Hilda Rodriguez: "So I figured, they're going to send someone, the police were here."
No one came to pick up the cow. It laid there, day after day, after day... rotting in the hot Florida sun.
Hilda Rodriguez: "I expected if they come to feed the cows, they will find her. Nobody came, nobody showed."
And as each day passed the smell got worse and worse.
Hilda Rodriguez: "The stench. I cannot stand it. The kids cannot come out to play in the backyard. We cannot open the windows."
The smell wasn't the worst part. Soon the vultures spotted the dead cow.
Hilda Rodriguez: "And I'm not exaggerating, fifteen or more vultures were on it yesterday."
That's when a neighbor covered it with an old bath tub. But that did nothing to mask the scent.
Hilda Rodriguez: "Nasty .. very nasty very nasty."
Of course during the whole ordeal, Hilda was on the phone trying to find someone in Miami-Dade county to remove the decaying carcass.
Hilda Rodriguez: "First I called Animal Control, they referred me to Critter Nuisance, who refer me too."
The list goes on and on. No one would help. No one could tell her who could help.
Hilda Rodriguez: "Finally I had no choice but to call Howard."
So Howard, put your nose to the grindstone and get this cow a proper disposal!
Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: "It is a violation of local ordinance for any property owner to allow a deceased animal to remain on their property causing what's called a "sanitary nuisance". The owner is usually given a very short period of time to remove the animal or face daily fines. The government agencies Hilda called should have known this and referred her to Code Enforcement."
Instead of calling Code Enforcement, we decided to find the owner.
We found them through the property appraisers website.
It's owned by a corporation that leases the pasture to a farmer.
After we called, the carcass was gone the next day.
But something like this will happen to someone again. Whether it's a cow, a cat or a raccoon. And getting through to the right agency is not always easy.
Howard Finkelstein: "It helps to know what sort of violation you are calling about. If it is something that is governed by city code, your first call should be code enforcement. If it's a state law, call the police. If all else fails, call your commissioner's office. They should be able to send you in the right direction."
As for the smelly situation over at Hilda's house, it's the sweet smell of success. With the cow gone things are back to normal.
Hilda Rodriguez: "The smell has gone, disappeared. Hallelujah. I can now open windows, the kids can come out and play."
Patrick Fraser: "Now this only took us a few minutes to solve... Not because we are smart -- we aren't -- but because we use the public records that are available. The property appraisers webpage to find the family that owned the land, then the state division of corporations webpage to track them donw. After one phone call, the cow was gone. So go search the internet, you can find out everything from how much your neighbors paid for their house to what companies they own...almost anything. For free."
A mess stinking up your life? Wanna moooove it? Contact us... We'l try to put your problem out to pasture.
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