For Port Richmond residents, it was the smell that hit them first.
“It smelled like something was dead, that’s how I could describe it. About last week it smelled like something died and I couldn’t figure out what that smell was,” said Joseph Lisacchi.
The disgusting odor came from the home of 70-year old Virginia Wetzel. After complaints from various neighbors, the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PSPCA) received a search warrant to enter the woman's home Wednesday.
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The house was covered in trash and feces and there was no running water or bathrooms, according to officials. Yet the most shocking discovery of all was the 21 animals that resided there. Nine were dogs, 12 were cats, and four were dead.
“It took us two hours to clear a path to get to the animals,” said SPCA official George Bengal. “One of the upstairs middle bedrooms housed about five cats and to walk in the room, the feces was over a foot deep in that bedroom.”
Wetzel was charged with animal cruelty back in 2004 for placing kennels outside of her house. She was also wanted on a bench warrant for not appearing in court. Investigators say that instead of getting rid of the kennels, Wetzel moved the animals back inside.
Licenses and Inspections boarded up the home after the surviving animals were removed. For the neighbors, the discovery is both a shock and a relief.
“I’m happy for the animals that they’re finally out of the house. I mean its sad, its really sad,” said Kathleen Haldeman.
For Bengal, it’s a case of animal hoarding that he’ll never forget: “This by far is the worst one I think I’ve been in so far."