CLAY TOWNSHIP, Ind. -- St. Joseph County Police and the Humane Society are investigating after at least a dozen animals were removed from a Clay Township home Monday.
Police say the call originally came in for a welfare check at a home in the 52,000 block of Ida Street. Neighbors hadn't seen the homeowner, 76-year-old James Robinson Sr., for several days.
When police arrived, they knocked on the door, but no one answered. That's when they looked inside the home's windows.
Police say they saw no signs of Robinson, but an unpleasant odor was coming from inside.
They called Clay Fire to help them get into the home. Police say the floor was covered in trash, empty cat food cans and animal feces.
"The officers that came here today, not one of them came out without a gas mask today puking and getting sick," said neighbor Phylicia Scott.
There was so much debris on the stairs, police couldn't get to the second floor of the home.
With the help of the Humane Society, at least 11 cats and one dog were removed.
Robinson was at his house when NewsCenter 16 arrived and says he no longer sleeps there because of health problems. But, Robinson says he stops by to care for his animals everyday.
"I give them at least three, four gallons of water a day," he said. "Eight to ten pounds of food everyday."
Robinson blames the mess inside the home on the bad weather, but says he plans to clean up soon. While it's not ideal for the animals to be living in such conditions, he says it's bearable.
"It's not that bad I don't think," he said. "I know there's one room where they've filled up their litter box and that. They keep filling it fuller and fuller."
Neighbors didn't know the extent of the problems inside Robinson's home until police started investigating Monday. Now they're calling on the county to take action.
"Not only do I want it condemned, I would like to see the house actually taken down," Scott said. "It's a health concern, there's children in this neighborhood. No one needs this in their neighborhood, no one wants this next to their house."
The St. Joseph County police department and Humane Society continue to investigate.