PSPCA removes nearly 150 animals from two Phila. homes

Photo David Warren/Inquirer

THURSDAY UPDATE - From my Inquirer colleague Peter Mucha: The PSPCA reports that a total of 85 live chihuahuas and chihuahua mixes were removed from Earp St., along with three cats. They also found the bodies of two dead dogs in the house. If neglect or abuse was involved, the homeowner could face misdemeanor charges, according to Liz Williamson, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania SPCA.

For each of the 85 living dogs, and two cats also found, a summary offense of unsanitary confinement could be charged, with a possible 90 days in jail and a $750 fine, Williamson said. Lack of veterinary care, another potential charge for each dog, carries similar possible consequences, she said.

UPDATE - The Daily News reports the woman involved in the case where 90 animals were found in a house "rescued" dogs from PACCA, the organization that once held the city's animal control contract and had more recently fostered cats for the PSPCA. She also picked up roadkill and stored it in a freezer.

The Pennsylvania SPCA has removed close to 150 animals from filthy conditions in Philadelphia rowhouses in two separate incidents in the past 24 hours.

In the first case, officers executed a search warrant at a home in the 5700 block of Mascher St. and rescued 90 animals, including cats, dogs, chinchillas and pigeons, from the property.

Officers also found more than 30 dead animals in a basement freezer.

Animal cruelty charges against the owner are being considered pending the results of medical evaluations on all the animals. The owner of the property faces multiple citations for unsanitary conditions, lack of veterinary care and misdemeanor charges for animal cruelty.

Many of the animals at the scene appeared in need of medical attention, the PSPCA said. 

All the animals that were recovered alive (53 cats, eight dogs, 21 chinchillas and eight birds) were taken to PSPCA for medical evaluation and are being held in protective custody and not available for adoption. The bodies of the deceased animals, which included cats, dogs, chinchillas and beavers and a fox, will be examined to determine cause of death.

In the second case, humane officers entered a South Philadelphia rowhouse Wednesday afternoon and collected 50 chihuahuas - and that was just from the first floor of the three-story residence in the 700 block of Earp Street.

This report was filed by my Inquirer colleague Robert Moran:

From the street, the stench of dog urine was hard to ignore. Inside, dog feces was everywhere, said George Bengal, director of law enforcement for the Pennsylvania SPCA.

A woman in her 50s lived the house, Bengal said. A neighbor said the woman's husband lived there, too, but he was laying low nearby while the PSPCA was collecting the animals.

The Department of Licenses and Inpections condemned the house, Bengal said.

"It's unfit for human habitation, let alone animals," he said.

The neighbor, Angel Crusha, 50, said she has known the woman, who she would only identify as Fran, since 1988 when Crusha moved to the block.

Crusha said they quickly became friends because they both loved animals. She said the woman has a job, interacts with neighbors, and has kept private whatever was going on inside her house.

The woman "got too attached" to her dogs, Crusha said.

"It's like a tattoo," Crusha said. You get one, you want another one."

Bengal said the woman had been a breeder of chihuahuas, but apparently stopped selling them. The PSPCA was tipped off to the situation in December, but was unable to get enough evidence for a warrant until Wednesday, Bengal said. The woman agreed to surrender all the dogs, he said.

She is facing charges of unsanitary conditions and medical neglect for each dog, Bengal said.

"If we find anything dead in there, that changes things," he said.