Big stink in neighborhood spurs removal of animals

June 04, 1994|By Michael James | Michael James,Sun Staff Writer

About 20 live animals -- mostly dogs and rats, but a few cats, guinea pigs and parakeets -- were seized yesterday from a South Baltimore rowhouse that residents complained was stinking up the neighborhood.

Animal control officials, wearing masks to ward off the rank odor of animal feces, brought boxers, beagles and other dog breeds out of the two-story, Formstone house in the 1900 block of Ramsey St. as more than 100 neighbors stood outside covering their noses.

"We've been having dogs disappearing all over the neighborhood for a while now. We never dreamed it would be anything like this," said Mike Holmes, 36, who lives two blocks away. "Look -- they've got a 'no trespassing' sign on the door. Who in the world would ever want to go in there with it smelling like that?"

None of the animals appeared to be ill, but they were being evaluated by a veterinarian at the city animal control shelter last night. They were strays picked up by the man and woman who live at the residence. Neighbors described the pair as misguided animal lovers.

"I wonder if my dog, Tank, is in there," said Theresa Fields, who lives in the 1900 block of McHenry St. "He was stolen last summer. We heard him barking late at night and the next morning he was gone from the yard. They've found some beagles in there. I bet they've found him."

Police and city officials said the residents of the house, whose names weren't released, haven't been charged with any criminal violations. Animal control officers were trying to sort out whether the animals may belong to neighborhood residents.

The man and woman may be cited for boarding more than two animals in a dwelling without a kennel permit, said Earl C. Watson, the city's animal control chief. A citation for animal cruelty could also be filed against them, he said.

"We don't have a whole lot of teeth as far as charging people or fining them," Mr. Watson said. "We hope there is something we can do to these people for harboring this many animals. It's full of feces and dog odors. I'm wondering how they fed them all."

Animal control officers, arriving in three animal rescue vans, went to the house late yesterday afternoon after getting a complaint from a housing official who went to the house to inspect it, Mr. Watson said.

Alma Grove, 68, who takes care of her 90-year-old father in the house next door, said she has been putting up with the horrific odor for two months.

"I've been complaining about it to city officials for months. They said they were filing reports and then I'd never hear anything back," Ms. Grove said. "The odor has just been getting worse and worse."

It is unclear why the residents of the house wanted to keep so many animals, city officials said. The rats, mice, birds, hamsters and guinea pigs were kept in cages, while the dogs and cats were loose in the house, they said.

"We've had a few similar situations. We had a lady once who had 10 or 12 cats in one house. She just really liked cats," Mr. Watson said. "But I can't remember anything like this -- a whole mixture of animals."

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