Case Snapshot
Case ID: 5434
Classification: Hoarding
Animal: cat
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Saturday, Aug 20, 2005

County: Fond du Lac

Disposition: Convicted

Defendant/Suspect: Merici A. Habib

Case Updates: 2 update(s) available

A Fond du Lac Police Department detective was transported to St. Agnes Hospital after he collapsed on the afternoon of Aug 22 from heat exhaustion while investigating what have been described as deplorable conditions at a house at 35 W. Bank St.

Because of the overpowering odor and the risk of disease from insects, like fleas, the officers investigating possible animal abuse or neglect at the house were forced to wear hazardous materials suits, Major Bill Makowski said, noting that the suit was the reason the detective became overheated.

"From the outside you can smell the cat urine, cat feces and the decomposition of the animal carcasses," he said. "The conditions, I understand, were beyond deplorable."

Detective Lee Mikulec was treated and released, according to a hospital spokesperson.

"Basically, with the investigation, we have to sit back and see what we have and see if charges can be filed," Makowski said.

Aside from investigating the conditions, officers were also setting live traps inside the house in an effort to catch the remaining cats. Makowski said the department has already removed 11 cats from the house and will be checking back at the residence periodically to see if any have been caught in the traps.

The cats have been transported to the Humane Society. At this point the Police Department is not sure how many cats were in the house, Capt. Mike Frank said.

"There are some left, but I don't think there was an accurate count," he said.

Vicki Timreck, who lives next door to the house, said some of the cats are roaming the neighborhood.

"We have a couple of them running around the neighborhood, and they are very, very sick," she said.

The house is owned by Jane Habib, of 340 Gillett St. However she is not the occupant of the house. The Fond du Lac Police Department has contacted Habib, but has been unsuccessful in contacting the occupant of the home.

Makowski said he was at the residence on the Aug 20 evening when officers were first dispatched to the house on a welfare check. They were originally looking for the body of a female, but once they started seeing all the cats they called for more help, Makowski said.

Timreck alerted police to the conditions of the house and the fact that she had not seen her neighbor in several weeks.

"I really was concerned about her," she said. "I was afraid something had happened in there."

Timreck helped in removing the cats from the house. She said she was about 20 feet away and helped carry the cats to the vehicles.

"It is an extremely high ammonia smell," she said. "It will make your eyes water. By the time we got to the ninth cat, I had to go inside because I was getting sick."

Timreck said it is not uncommon for her neighbor to be gone for several weeks at a time. She said she got concerned when she noticed the lawn had not been mowed.


Case Updates

Merici Habib of Fond du Lac was sentenced to five years probation for 10 misdemeanor counts of mistreatment of animals.
Source: Fond Du Lac Reporter - Jan 31, 2007
Update posted on Feb 1, 2007 - 1:36PM 
Some of the cats pulled out of a West Bank Street residence on Aug. 20 will find new homes thanks to an animal shelter in Richland Center.

Twenty cats now have been rescued from what officials have called deplorable conditions at the residence at 35 W. Bank St.

Fond du Lac Humane Society Shelter Manager Lucy Mathers said the Humane Society has found an animal rescue center at Richland Center, in the southwest part of the state, that has offered to take in four of the cats and has found homes for eight more.

"I'm glad they're here and being cared for," Mathers said about the cats from the West Bank Street home.

She said the rescue centers will be able to put in the time to try to domesticate the animals.

Mathers contacted the Richland County Friends of Animals Inc., a no kill animal shelter established in 1977.

Carol DeFilippo, a volunteer at the Richland County Friends of Animals, said the facility is accepting four of the cats, and she has found two other Wisconsin shelters that do not believe in euthanizing animals. One is in Camp Douglas and the other is in Granton. Both communities are in the west central part of the state.

"They will try to socialize them - handle them more," she said.

Mathers said the rescue centers will handle the adoption of the cats. She said three or four of the cats at the Humane Society are friendly enough for people to adopt.

The 20 cats were removed after the Fond du Lac Police Department discovered them on Aug. 20 living uncared for in the house with feces, urine and cat carcasses throughout the residence. More cats are still being live-trapped inside the house.

"Well, with them (the West Bank cats), I think that the end is near," Mathers said of the trapping. "I think they have caught pretty much all of them now."

DeFilippo said this type of situation is not new to her. Two years ago, her organization live-trapped 12 cats that a woman had been feeding. However, they were still very wild in behavior, she said.

"We put them in cages with a potty pan and clean towels," she said. "You feed them, talk with them, interact with them and try to pet them. We still have two that are in cages. You can pet them, but they are still not comfortable around people."

Out of the 10 cats that were able to let out of cages, five have been adopted, DeFilippo said.
Source: Fond Du Lac Reporter - Sept 2, 2005
Update posted on Sep 2, 2005 - 8:30PM 

References


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