MADISON COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — Investigators had to bring in breathing equipment in order to remove several animals from a home in Madison County.
According to Madison County Sheriff Scott Mellinger, it all began with calls from neighbors who said they couldn’t live with the odor any longer.
Mellinger said the home, which is located in the southwest part of the county at 750 West and 1000 South, was condemned after “brief observations” from the Madison County Health Department.
Mellinger said 14 cats and three dogs are being removed from the home. The adults living there are being displaced as well and could faces charges.
Breathing equipment from local fire departments had to be used because investigators couldn’t be inside of the home for more than a few minutes without getting sick.
Investigators said the two responding deputies and health department workers couldn’t even bring themselves to explore the entire house because the smell inside was so bad.
Mellinger said the feces was two to three inches in places. He said there was newspaper soaked in urine all across the house, some possibly sitting there for weeks.
Investigators say they’ve been called to the house on three previous occasions, always for cats running loose but they said they never had probable cause to enter the home. They said today, the homeowners allowed them to walk inside.
“I’ve had two of my deputies inside the house who actually started feeling very ill. We did send them to med check to be checked out. the people who are going in now will be wearing oxygen tanks,” Sheriff Mellinger said.
The Madison County Emergency Management Agency was also at the scene. It delivered animal cages as well as pet food to help with the rescue effort. The supplies had recently been used at pet shelters in Kokomo after the tornado hit last week.
“I’m just sad for the animals,” said Tom Ecker, EMA executive director. “We’re trying to get them to a safe location and get them some medical care.”
Neighbors described the homeowners are nice people but acknowledged that the cats often ran around outside of the house and onto other properties.
“I hate to see what’s happening,” said neighbor Doug Martin. “I mean they did have a lot of cats, I didn’t realize they had that many cats.”
Sheriff Mellinger said it’s possible the homeowners could face misdemeanor charges of animal neglect.