Clay Township 'animal house' will be demolished

It doesn’t happen often, but it happened today.

St. Joseph County took action to force the demolition of a home.

“It’s stinky. It’s disgusting. I can’t take my children for walks. We can’t really play outside. I have a swing set in the back yard that doesn’t get used,” said Phylicia Scott who lives next door to the home in question in the 52000 block of Ida Street in Clay Township.

Police were called to the home last April to check on the welfare of the owner, only to find that he was no longer living there, and only to come face to face with the obvious reason why.

“Well, that was probably the worst we'd seen,” said Dr. Carol Ecker, Director of the St. Joseph County Humane Society. “The floor was just slippery with slime and bacterial process, it was just awful.”

The home was occupied solely by some live cats, some dead cats, and one dog.

To date, a total of 39 felines have been removed from the home. The cats have since produced 13 kittens.

“They have to be fed they have to be vaccinated they have to be wormed. Some of them are feral we had to deal with that issue,” said Dr. Ecker. “It’s cost of $24,000 dollars is what the cost is, of this whole venture”.

Given the circumstances, there’s also a high price for neighbors to pay. “When we purchased the house in 2012 it smelled like sewage but we thought he had a septic issue,” said Ida Street resident Phylicia Scott. “I was just planting flowers in the front yard yesterday and I had to wear a mask because I almost got sick from the smell.”

Scott spoke in favor of the home’s demolition today at a public hearing before the St. Joseph County Commissioners. The homeowner was nowhere to be found.

“We sent legal notices as required by law, and have received no direct contact other than receipt of delivery of the notice,” said St. Joseph County Building Commissioners Chuck Bulot.

The county commissioners today voted unanimously to demolish the home. The search is now on for someone to do the job. Bids on the project will be opened on July 8th.

While the demolition will be welcomed by neighbors, it may not end the saga. “That should never have happened. Someone should have been watching and helping and they didn't. And that's, there's a legal prosecutorial process going on. I can't I can't really say much more than that, we are going to prosecute,” said Dr. Ecker.

After the house is torn down the county will place a lien on the property designed to recover the cost of the demolition work.

On the bright side, a dog removed from the property has been adopted and is said to be doing well. The cats taken from the home were recently signed over to the Humane Society and should be available for adoption soon.

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