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Owner fined $35,720 for 150 cats

I have had some pretty awful trash houses filled with animals in my years of prosecution but this woman kept 150 cats in her mansion in New Jersey. The largest number of animals I ever dealt with were slightly over 100 Bichon dogs where the inspectors did an administrative search warrant. In the past if an inspector found a house like that, we’d put the owner in touch with a developer who would buy the property, tear the house down and build something new. With the current economy, that doesn’t happen and these cases can be real nightmares, especially if the owner doesn’t have the financial resources to hire someone for the cleanup. The residence has to be sanitized before anyone can move back in so it usually has to be condemned, often on the spot. I wonder if the local government will actually collect the fines?


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  1. September 29th, 2009 at 11:33 | #1

    We abated a property recently where the inside of the house was much worse than the outside but because it was not a rental, we had no recouse for the interior of the property. The local and state health departments have offered no solutions. Like the property you mention above, no one will be able to live in this house without serious clean up, if ever. What is case law out there about cities doing interior abatement?

    • Linda Pieczynski
      September 29th, 2009 at 19:03 | #2

      I’ve had a lot of success with using the International Property Maintenance Code with forcing people to clean up the interior of trash homes. My clients have never had to do the cleanup because the judge ordered the owner to or else face contempt of court.

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