A man kept more than 90 dogs — mostly Chihuahuas — in a suburban Detroit home that from the outside looked generally well kept but inside was filled with feces and trash, authorities said Thursday.
Neighbors in the past had complained of an odor, but this week was the first time Dearborn officials got inside. On Wednesday and Thursday, crews wearing masks to help them breathe carried dogs from the two-story home.
"There's trash from floor to ceiling," said Nick Siroskey, director of residential services for the city. "There's feces and urine throughout the entire house. Basement, first level, second level."
City workers, along with Friends for the Dearborn Animal Shelter, removed 42 ailing and feces-covered dogs from the home Wednesday. They returned Thursday and found about 50 more dogs.
The 56-year-old man who was living in the house was taken to a local hospital for observation. His family, which lives in Florida, was involved in his care and cooperating with officials.
Man may have mental health issues
The man's sister told officials that she believed he initially had two dogs in the home and that they may have reproduced, Siroskey said. Misdemeanor animal cruelty charges were possible, but Siroskey said the man appears to have mental health issues that could be a factor in the case.
Outside, the lawn was neatly cut and the bushes were manicured. Neighbors and investigators said the smell of urine, noticeable from the street Thursday, may have been contained previously because windows were closed and covered.
"There was a little bit of a smell, but it was just like a ... person that doesn't keep their house up," said Abe Baydoun. "He didn't take care of himself, personally, but he took care of the outside of his house."
Baydoun, 25, lives across the street and said he only had seen two of the man's dogs outside.
"It just seemed like there was five or six," he said.
Piles of feces and fleas
Police Chief Ronald Haddad said officers found piles of feces and fleas inside the house. The dogs, which were being examined at the animal shelter, appear to have been unattended and were in various stages of health.
Crews pulled bags full of trash from the home to clear pathways inside, and dogs sat in cages outside before being taken to the shelter. The house was deemed unfit for human habitation and the city likely will seek to tear it down, Siroskey said.
On Friday, Siroskey said police were called to the home by a neighbor who spotted some kittens in a hole in the backyard, and the officer who responded reported that it seemed like there were many dogs inside. Animal control authorities got the case and, after obtaining a warrant, investigators went inside Wednesday.
"Sometimes you have no clue how many pets are in a house," Siroskey said.