Monday, July 21, 2008

No Greater Exodus In History

The Crackhead has left the building!

Much to my surprise, she moved out about two weeks ago because all of her utilities had been shut off, one by one, over the course of a week, and when the weather got hot, she abandoned the house to stay with a friend. She also left behind her three cats and her 20-year-old daughter. The daughter finally moved out Saturday, but she, too, left the cats behind.

Crackhead’s Daughter knew someone who was friends with movers, and the movers packed up her stuff and took her to the new place as a favor to the mutual friend. The guys were not shy about what they found in that house. When I left my place on Saturday, one of the guys had picked up a box of books in the garage, but he couldn’t get halfway down the driveway with it before he dropped it and started gagging violently. The books in the box shared their space with thousands of maggots, and when he lifted it up, maggots fell out of the small holes in the box, and it took him about three full minutes of fiercely shaking his hands while shuddering from head to toe before he convinced himself that there were no more maggots on him. He looked at us looking back at him in horror and he announced, right in front of Crackhead’s Daughter, that he’s seen a lot of disgusting houses, things he couldn’t even talk about, and this was the second worst house he’d ever moved. He said he might never feel clean again. Then he frantically started screaming about what the hell maggots would be doing in a box of books. Crackhead’s Daughter didn’t say a word, just hung her head.

When I came home many hours later, the movers were gone, as were the humans, but the three cats sat in the upstairs windows that were left open, and meowing like crazy. No one knows if anyone in the Crackhead Family left them food or water. Police were called, but said they couldn’t come out to remove the pets unless someone was in the house to let them in. What? Since when? That’s not what I see on Animal Cops!

The absentee landlord lives in Florida and owns about two dozen houses in my subdivision, all of which he rents to out as Section 8 housing. They are all problems, but my neighbors took the cake. He evicted Crackhead in May, but out of the kindness of his heart (cough, sputter) allowed her to find a place to live before hiring someone to heave out all her shit. Isn’t that nice? Nice, considering he’s refused to respond to the hundreds of complaints from neighbors and the association, that start out begging and end up threatening him if he doesn’t do something about Crackhead. Finally he gave her the heave-ho. It’s been 12 years of suffering.

Today was the heaving day.

An industrial-sized dumpster sits on the lawn that we share, and it is full to the tippy top of some of the foulest smelling garbage you’ve ever suffered. There was a solitary man hired to dump all the detritus left behind, and he too was not shy about complaining to the spectators about what he found inside. A minimum of two animal corpses were found in the house, so decomposed that they weren’t identifiable as cat or dog, and one is beneath a refrigerator in the garage that the dumper didn’t get to yet. There were some pieces of furniture that were put in the dumpster, which were soaked through and through with urine, and stained with mysterious substances that one didn’t even want to imagine. The smell of ammonia was so strong it would make your eyes water if you were downwind. Without the ammonia on the wind, the pungent, ever-present stench was that of rot. Food, flesh, feces, or anything carbon-based rotted in that home for years, and the fetid odor now sits outside in a dumpster, less than 10 feet from my windows. However, by and large, the majority of what the dumper found in the home and garage was a collection of garbage, bagged up and piled to the ceiling, probably dating back a year or more. Crackhead had stopped paying for her garbage pickup and just kept the garbage in the house. This is an improvement from the time period when she stacked it up in 5-foot piles against the back of her garage until her entire yard was covered in bags of garbage, and the village would do nothing about it. Only the landlord threatening to evict her got her to clean up the yard, and she took carloads of garbage bags, some that had broke open and were seeping decayed waste, and she left them in dumpsters behind various local businesses in the middle of the night. After that she must have started piling them in the garage, and when the garage was full, she piled them in the house.

The dumper got to the house early this morning and called the police immediately to come for the cats. The dispatcher said someone would be there before 3:30 that afternoon (because that’s when he told them he was leaving), but no one ever showed up by 5:30 when he actually left. No one showed up at all.

I don’t know what must be worse for those cats. Living in that landfill with people for companionship, and perhaps some food and water occasionally; or living in the house after it’s been gutted of most of the filth, with no companionship or sustenance. I’m thinking the former. And I’m also thinking that they probably won’t live much longer if the dumper didn’t think to leave them some clean water.

But, at least three of their other four-legged roommates had died in that house, never to be removed, and I know damn well if they were humans, they’d be so psychologically damaged that they might not ever be adoptable. Who knows what kind of diseases they carry, too. I just don’t want to know. Yet, if the police do not remove those cats tomorrow, I’m going to start calling for reinforcement from other agencies to put pressure on them. I drove home tonight and three squad cars were sitting at the local bank clocking speeders and talking, even though the dispatcher said they were too busy to pick up the cats. Not acceptable.

Obviously there have been years and years of egregious behavior on the part of the officials whose jobs dictated that they wrangle up people like Crackhead, and make them responsible for their actions. From the police, to the village, to the landlord, and all the governmental agencies that did surprise inspections of that house to ensure that her benefits should continue, they all failed so epically here that it just seems like an apathetic punctuation mark at the end of long era of not giving a shit. Yep. Cats. Left alone in the pit. No one came for them. The end.

But it’s not the end. And I’ll fight to get someone to try to rescue those cats. They deserve better than this, even if it’s months of medical care followed by a life in a cage at a shelter, awaiting adoption.

And I’ll fight harder if they renovate that house and rent it to another crackhead.

This is a legacy that needs to die.


libwitch said...

We just had a family evicted from a house. It started when CPS was called when the children missed too many days of school. Then they called the Health Department, who called the landlord. They had always paid the rent on time, so the landlord never check on them. They never threw away their garbage, or bagged it up, and instead, for three years, threw it in the basement. They frequently never flushed the toilets, even though they worked fine, leaving the toilets, and eventually, the bathrooms, and the basement, filled with feces and urine. There were at least 4 animal corpses in there.

And that was just the start of it.

My finance works works for the pest control company that has is currently on the 7th treatment of the house. At least now when they go in, they only see a few cockroaches in broad daylight. His first day, they quite literally met him at the curb. The walls moved with them.

They gutted the entire house down to the studs and rebuilt it to save it. (I don't know why they didn't just tear it down)

They tested the parents for drugs. No drug use. They said they just didn't feel like cleaning.

Cat. said...


Do you not have an animal control org. for the county/area? I wouldn't call the cops--I'd call a shelter or something and tell them they have to come when "the dumper" is there. (I hope he's coming back!)

There was a family in a nice suburb of Chicago about 8 years ago that was 'featured' in the Tribune with photos of their house. A nice house, which they owned, in a nice suburb, which sounds precisely like what libwitch describes. They NEVER cleaned: couldn't be arsed.

Renovate: would YOU live in that house? How come cars come with a basic history, but houses don't??

John Left said...

Wonderful writing, as usual. I feel your annoyance at people like that.

We have some new next-door neighbors who are renting their house from a local do-gooder. Their ugly cat runs free and has killed all the rabbits in our backyard. Bloody Bugs carnage---yuck. They have a young son (age 5-ish) who is prone to screaming fits and likes to pee on our trash cans. And no, he's not mentally challenged; he's just weird. So you're not alone.

The best thing to do is build a big fence and ignore them. Or write terrific, funny blog posts about them, like yours.

Gardenbuzzy said...

Please let us know what happens with the cats. There's got to be a special place in Hell for people who treat animals like that.

Rachel said...

Hey, if all else fails, contact PETA! They would never stand for something like that and would (or at least I could hope) be there without the "dumper". Or ALF, if you could actually find them....
Good luck with that and let us know how it turned out!

Vampire Librarian said...

I had a neighbor who left a dead deer in the basement for the landlord to find after they disappeared. The landlord had to get a body bag from the funeral home to haul it and lather himself with Vicks to deal with the smell.

It sounds like time to celebrate. Hope the cats are rescued. I'd call the SPCA.