Home with 85 chihuahuas condemned as unfit for human habitation

By Calvin Palmer

Authorities in Philadelphia have condemned a home as unfit for human habitation after it was found to contain 85 chihuahuas and chihuahua mixes.

When humane officers, wearing protective suits and air-filter masks entered the home in South Philadelphia on Wednesday, they also found two dead dogs.

Investigators are trying to determine if the dogs died of natural causes. If neglect or abuse was involved, the homeowner could face misdemeanor charges, according to Liz Williamson, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania SPCA.

The stench of urine was strong outside the three-story residence on Earp Street and dog feces were everywhere, said director of law enforcement for the Pennsylvania SPCA George Bengal.

“The Department of Licenses and Inspections condemned the house,” Bengal said. “It’s unfit for human habitation, let alone animals.”

A woman in her fifties lives with her husband at the house. Their identity has not been released.

Neighbor  Angel Crusha, 50, said that she has known the woman since 1988, and that they quickly became friends because they both loved animals. She said the woman has a job, interacts with neighbors, and has kept private whatever was going on inside her house.

The woman “got too attached” to her dogs, Crusha said.

“It’s like a tattoo,” she said. “You get one, you want another one.”

Bengal said the woman had been a breeder of chihuahuas, but apparently stopped selling them and they began to accumulate.

“We see these types of hoarding situations regularly,” he said. “Most people believe they are helping these animals but are quickly overwhelmed and are unable to take care of them, sometimes with tragic results.”

The PSPCA was tipped off to the situation in December, but was unable to get enough evidence for a warrant until Wednesday, Bengal said.

The woman agreed to surrender all the dogs, he said.

She could face a summary offense of unsanitary confinement for each of the 85 dogs and two cats found in her home. The offense carries a sentence of 90 days in jail and a $750 fine.

[Based on a report by The Philadelphia Inquirer.]

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