Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct an error on the home’s location. It was in Syracuse. News Now Warsaw regrets the error.
By Dan Spalding
News Now Warsaw
WARSAW — Police on Friday morning raided a home in Syracuse after being alerted to a hoarding situation where a woman and two children – along with a dozen dogs and numerous cats — were living.
Police broke down the entrance after nobody answered the door Friday morning. Police were joined by officials with the Kosciusko County Health Department, EMS and staff from Animal Welfare League of Kosciusko County.
Police responding included Kosciusko County Sheriff’s deputies, the county’s animal control officer, as well as Warsaw Police.
Those entering the home were wearing hazmat suits, according to Tonya Blanchard, executive director with with AWL.
The exact status of the woman and two children was not immediately made available by police on Saturday.
Blanchard provided a photo of the house showing it had been condemned.
A staff member of AWL suffered a bite wound during the visit.
What authorities found inside were appalling conditions, Blanchard said.
Blanchard expressed equal concern for the safety of the children.
The mobile home was overwhelmed with trash, feces, cockroaches and bugs. Debris had accumulated in much of the home with slender paths leading to different rooms.
The cats, believed to be feral, quickly escaped out of a hole in the home and animal welfare officials found twelve dogs inside suffering from numerous ailments.
All of the dogs were either Chihuahuas or a fox terrier Chihuahua mix.
Numerous dogs had lost their fur, apparently from poor diets, Blanchard said.
Three tested positive for heartworm and many had fleas.
One was a puppy who had just given birth. Another pup is expected to give birth any day.
One has a type of mange that is not contagious.
The dogs were placed in isolation to provide a sense of quiet as they try to recover and were being given high protein diets.
Blanchard said they’ve encountered several hoarding situations in recent years, including one involving more than 50 Chihuahuas.
The conditions of the dogs recovered Friday were worse, she said.
Blanchard questioned whether the owner had had good intentions of housing the animals and added, “None of them are unsociable … they wanna be loved.”
Blanchard said public reaction after a recap was posted on the group’s Facebook page was strong and had led to numerous donations.
AWL is in need of fosters and could use more comforters and dog beds, she said.
She said the animals could also use some prayers and that chance arrives Sunday when St. Anne’s Episcopal Church on West Market Street in Warsaw hosts a pet blessing service.
Sunday’s event is an annual occurrence and Carol Bianchini, the parish administrator, said they expect some of the AWL animals will be part of the program.
Father Michael Besden, a longtime former rector with the church, will serve as the guest celebrant.
Service time is 10 a.m. and the public is welcome to attend.