37 cats removed from alleged hoarder's home
SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. (WSVN) -- Animal control officers removed 37 cats from a South Florida residence Sunday after neighbors notified authorities about the deplorable living conditions in which the homeowner kept the animals.
Area residents said they have been dealing with a foul odor coming from what some of them have nicknamed "the cat house" for years. "Every time you walk by, it smells really, really bad," said Luis Gomez.
Animal services said the house, located off of Southwest 131st Avenue and 49th Terrace, is filled with trash and feces. It is also crawling with cockroaches. "A land fill, a dump, that's what it looks in there," said Miami-Dade County Animal Services Luis Salgado. "Bottles, food, containers full of urine."
"Also, the roaches from his house come into my house and then to the neighbor on the other side as well," said Betty Rodriguez, who has lived on this street for almost a decade.
Rodriguez said the smell emanating from the home is hard to put into words. "It's indescribable; it's a terrible, terrible thing," she said. "[The officers removing the cats] have come out gagging, and they're wearing masks."
Rodriguez said the smell worsens in the summer months, and it prevents neighbors from having outdoor gatherings. "Every time we try to have visitors over, it's really uncomfortable for us to be in the backyard or the front yard because it smells," she said.
Authorities said the homeowner was taken under the Baker Act, which means he was transported to a mental hospital or clinic for an evaluation.
Rodriguez saw him being escorted out of his home. "When he put his clothes back on, the roaches were coming out of his clothes, and then the ambulance came and took him," she said.
This the first time animal services has been able to go into the home. They said the house is in deteriorated condition. "A hoarder's situation like this is typically like this. They not only hoard the animals, they hoard everything else you can think of," said Salgado. "The smell is horrendous you can smell it out here on the sidewalk. It's pretty bad in there and that is unfit for human habitat and much less for animals."
Officials said there were over 50 cats inside the home. They said they were unable to remove the rest because there is only one light bulb in the entire house.
"As they're doing all of this, I feel like probably the neighborhood is going to be a bit better now," said Rodriguez.
Animal services left food and water for the cats they left behind. Officials said they will attempt to remove the remaining pets on Monday.
The 37 felines that were seized were taken to the Miami-Dade County Animal Services facility in Medley. Officials said some of the animals will be returned to the homeowner's family members if possible.
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