Groups scramble to care for dozens of cats left behind at hoarder home

Posted at 11:01 PM, May 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-27 02:01:22-04

Homeowners in a Valley neighborhood are at their wits end with a so-called hoarder house. It’s a nice neighborhood with one yard full of trash and dozens of cats that have been plaguing people for years.

"It's just gotten worse and worse," said Sally Long, one of the people who lives near the problem property. “It's like it’s growing. It's like it's a living organism."

Some of the unwanted eyesore actually is living. Cats are everywhere.

"Terrible,” said Long, breathing deeply. “It smells like cats. Smells like pee. Smells like dead things. It's a horrid rancid smell.”

If you look left, right or any other direction in this neighborhood near 32nd Avenue and Peoria, everything is perfectly normal. Neighbors say the guy who lives in the trashed house used to be normal too.

According to one HOA member, he became mentally ill and stopped paying mortgage and HOA dues around five years ago. But somehow, despite best efforts from the HOA, he managed to hang onto the home. For several years neighbors have noticed he lived without water or electricity.

“It's been a monumental effort. We've used every civic mechanism possible over the years and it has taken five years to get to this point,” said Steven Musto, who is on the neighborhood patrol.

As of this week, someone finally bought the house out from under the delinquent owner. Phoenix police evicted him and also kicked out several transients who had been squatting on the property.

But the now-former owner left behind a mess. He left a literal mountain of trash that formed a ring around the entire front yard. The backyard is filled with more trash, disabled vehicles and unknown odors. The eviction also turned lose about 40 cats that had been living inside.

“The humane society won't get involved because they're classified as feral. So that’s been a problem,” said Musto.

Private rescue groups are now trying to help these neighbors who are desperate to move on.

“I kept saying 'why is this taking so long?'” asked Long.

ABC15 did speak with the new home owner who is working to fix the problems. He said he will likely have to tear the house down--or at least to the studs--and start over.