House infested with rats, cats and snakes

May 14, 2008 7:30:04 PM PDT
Neighbors in one north Houston neighborhood are relieved as a house infested with rats, cats and snakes is finally getting some much needed attention. An 85-year-old man lived in the home on Greenspoint for years, but he was unable to keep up with the mess.

PHOTOS: See pictures of the house

Neighbors say the homeowner hasn't been seen at the house in six months. It's a situation they say has gotten worse over the last 10 years.

Precinct 1 deputies worked to catch the many stray cats living at the house with traps.

"The cats are becoming thinner and fighting each other at this point, probably over food," said Deputy Christine Kenderick.

This wasn't Kenderick's first time at the house. At one point there were 25 cats and several dogs living there.

"He's a war veteran, a very nice old man," said Larry Maze of the neighborhood civic association about the homeowner.

Tarps now cover the roof that is caving in. The backyard is so overgrown it looks like a forest and the swimming pool looks like a swamp.

Neighbors say they offered the homeowner help, but he would never accept. "It's just a relief that something is going to be done," Maze said.

"This house needs to be torn down before it falls down," said Precinct 1 Assistant Chief J.C. Mozier. "It's a health hazard and a safety hazard. Next thing you'll have kids playing in here."

The cleanup process began with the utility company shutting off the gas to prevent a fire hazard. Some of the cats were captured so they can be treated by a vet.

So how does a situation like this happen?

Gwen Carter with Adult Protective Services says neighbors must have called every agency but them. Last year the office says it helped over 9,000 elderly people in similar situations. She says if her office can't help, they can find someone who can.

"Adult Protective Services will work with other community partners to try to keep them in their home if it is safe," she said. "But if it's not safe, we will work to try to find somewhere for that person to live so that person can live their life in dignity, safely."

Neighbors believe the homeowner could now live in an assisted living facility. Adult Protective Services says if an elderly neighbor refuses help, you should still call them. That call could help save a life. You can make anonymous reports.

For more information on how to do that, click here.

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