YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Humane agents removed several animals from a house in Youngstown on Monday, and the people living there had to leave as well.
Animal Charity Humane Society called it one of their top 10 worst cases, not because of the number of animals found but because of their conditions.
Neighbors said they aren’t shocked to see what happened at the house on South Avenue.
“Everybody knew. The cats would sit in the window and meow at you,” said neighbor Tim McFarland.
Nineteen animals are now in the care of the humane society: 13 cats and six dogs. Two service dogs were released to responsible adults. Officials said all were in bad shape and three are likely to need surgery.
“They are covered in bedbugs, fleas, sores, scabs. They have severe dental disease, both cats and dogs,” said Animal Charity’s Jane MacMurchy.
Several animals were in need of emergency veterinary care and rescuers were concerned some might not survive.
“The dogs that we have from the home are ranging from severe flea infestation and losing hair and mange. One has a missing eye. One’s eye is, unfortunately, hanging out of the socket. We have two that are unable to walk,” MacMurchy said.
The house has been condemned because of its condition. The people living there also had to leave because they could not safely stay, according to authorities.
Youngstown police said they were investigating another case when they came across the hoarding.
“It was about eight years ago. I lived there with them and the one dog, his name was Kujo. About 15 years old now,” McFarland said.
McFarland lived in the house for about a year.
“That house has been really lived in and it’s kinda run down. It had a few miles on it when I lived there and they haven’t put much into it,” he said.
We’re told, during the rescue, one of the flights of stairs fell through as workers were moving animals out of the building.
“There’s a lot of people in Youngstown who don’t take care of their cats,” McFarland said.
The humane society says they rescue, on average, 80 animals per month. They estimate there are thousands of other animals living in similar terrible conditions across the county. But laws across cities and townships vary, making it more difficult for agents to make sure people who hurt animals can’t do it again.
“The laws that we have are very limited. People think that the law that came about in the last two years is considered a felony for animal cruelty, means anyone charged with animal cruelty is a felony. That is not true,” MacMurchy said.
That felony law applies more when an animal is tortured.
“If we had stricter and stronger laws that we could go by, the Ohio Revised Code then, it might not be such a struggle for us,” MacMurchy said.