The Howell Township Police Department responded to a call from a utility worker Tuesday night, but when they arrived, they discovered the home was actually filled with cats.
Animal Control officers are slowly catching all the animals and taking them to the shelter where they are being treated for fleas, upper respiratory infections, skin infections and internal parasites.
"His yard has been the talk of the neighborhood for years now. Just to cut the lawn," said one neighbor, Elyse Revak.
For years neighbors put up with the blight, their complaints unanswered. "If I ever wanna sell my house you wanna look at a house like that? No," said Revak.
Finally on Tuesday, she learned what was in there: dozens of cats, some just days old.
"It's the worst part of this job, it really is. The hoarding situations. They're very difficult," said Chief Ross Licitra of the Monmouth SPCA.
Licitra runs animal control in Monmouth County, which has taken custody of the cats. They were discovered by a worker who was shutting off the gas for non-payment.
"So of course the gas guy calls the police, which calls the fire department, which calls everybody else," said Licitra. "They all converge and they're all like holy cow. I'm still smelling it in my nose. Like oh my God it's terrible."
He says it's among the worst cases he's seen. The homeowner, 61-year-old Ivan Sevastianow, inherited the house from his grandmother, and somehow allowed it to sink to this.
He's been charged with dozens of counts of animal cruelty. The flea-ridden cats are under observation by vets at the SPCA, some in very bad shape.
"Hopefully the ones we can help and cure we will adopt out, hopefully we won't have to euthanize any of 'em," said Licitra. But most likely, he says, they won't.
The Monmouth County SPCA says they found pregnant cats, nursing mothers, kittens and adult cats -- all of which are now in their compassionate care, but it's kitten season and the shelter is in need of supplies and donations.
If you would like to help, you can donate through Facebook or purchase an item from their Amazon wish list.
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