ISLIP, Suffolk County (WABC) -- A father and his son were arrested Tuesday night on multiple counts of animal cruelty after more than two dozen cats were found in hoarding conditions at their home.
Police were called to the home on Lake Street following reports of animal cruelty.
They saw several loose cats outside and noticed a strong ammonia smell coming from inside the home.
Officials say the cats inside the home were overcrowded with sparse food and no water.
Investigators seized five cages and two containers containing 26 cats. The cats were taken to the Islip Animal Shelter for evaluation.
Gary Verga, 72, and Daniel Verga, 39, were arrested and each charged with 10 counts of failing to provide proper sustenance to an animal and 10 counts of failing to provide proper food and drink to an impounded animal.
"Me being the owner of a cat myself, I am just disgusted by this case and just glad that we were able to rescue those cats," said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison.
Police say it all started on November 29 when EMS was called home because Gary Verga was having trouble breathing. EMS then had trouble accessing the home because Verga had garbage piled up to the ceiling.
The Vergas were cited by the town, but when a contractor arrived to fix things one month later, there was so much hoarding, he couldn't even reach the second floor where the cats were barely fed and found living in just seven cages
Residents said the stench and trash at the dilapidated home had been an issue for years.
"It's horrible, I mean you used to walk by the house and there would be computers in the woods, just garbage spewed everywhere," neighbor Neil Capolongo said.
They said they actually assumed that no one even lived at the home anymore.
The Vergas will appear in court on Thursday.
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