“They literally found a horror show inside.”
That’s how Pennsylvania SPCA humane law enforcement director George Bengal described what authorities found inside a stuffy, trash-filled Philadelphia home.
Firefighters responded to the 9100 block of Bickley Road near Welsh and Roosevelt Boulevard in Northeast Philadelphia Sunday night to check on the well-being of an elderly man who has lived at the overgrown home for the past two decades who had called family members to let them know that he had fallen and couldn't get up.
When firefighters went inside they found the 70-year-old man unconscious in the hot home with an overwhelming smell.
The man was revived and taken to a local hospital.
After getting a search warrant, crews wearing full body hazmat suits including breathing apparatus entered the home.
“This place is a total, total mess just full of parasites, dead animals, live animals that are sick,” Bengal said. "If you can imagine flushing your toilet for five or six years and this is all where it goes, that's what the house looks like inside."
According to the SPCA, there were five living cats, at least three dead cats, buckets of feces, rats and even live bats inside the house. There were also piles of trash, crumbling drywall and collapsing ceiling titles that made cleanup difficult on the crews and gave cats plenty of potential places to hide out.
Bengal said the flea infestation in the home is one of the worst he has ever seen.
The house was condemned by License and Inspections. The SPCA worked with L&I to ensure the safety of its officers before they resumed their search of the home Monday afternoon.
Neighbors say they rarely saw the owner but lately hadn't seen him at all.
"I know he's not well," said one woman. "All I know is I thought he only had one cat."
Bengal said the presence of bats is a clue that this level of hoarding has been going on for years. The SPCA plans on charging the homeowner with animal cruelty charges.
"Our goal here is not just to cite and arrest people for cruelty to animals," Bengal said. "Our goal here for situations like this is to get them mental health."