WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — Court papers indicate it was the report of a foul animal odor that brought investigators with the SPCA to a home on Andover Street in Wilkes-Barre.
"My kids actually smelled it the other night when they were outside. They were in the house burning stuff in the coal stove, and they said they smelled hair, and then the police in the animal control was down here that night," said Robert Holden, who lives a few doors down.
Despite neighborhood observations like this and rumors circulating online, both a humane officer with the SPCA and the city fire inspector say there was nothing inside the home that indicated any kind of intentional burning. But Newswatch 16 could smell a strong cat litter and animal odor from the house.
When the SPCA went inside, it found a deplorable hoarding situation and removed dozens of cats from the home. At least three dead cats were found inside.
"We've taken out about nine or 10 today. I think the officer on Friday took seven, so my estimate will say between 20 and 30 cats, I would say, total in there. At any given time, but, like I said, that's just an estimate," said Wayne Harvey, a humane officer with the Luzerne County SPCA.
The city health department has also condemned the home and is working with the owner to rectify the situation.
The owner would not speak to Newswatch 16 directly but told a humane officer she didn't mean for the situation to go this far.
"The female living there reached out for help for different organizations, and she wanted everybody in the media to know that, and she has not received any help. I'm just repeating what she wanted me to tell you all," relayed Harvey.
People in the neighborhood say they were surprised by this investigation and hope it gets handled quickly.
"I hope it gets cleaned up, and we get good people in there. Quiet neighborhood, very quiet, there's rarely any trouble here, so we'd like to keep it that way," said Holden.
In terms of any animal cruelty charges, Harvey said that is up to the investigating officer who was off duty on Monday.
Many of the cats from that home will be vaccinated and fixed at the SPCA and then put up for adoption.