Case Snapshot
Case ID: 5448
Classification: Hoarding
Animal: cat, dog (non pit-bull), rodent/small mammal (pet), rabbit (pet)
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Friday, Aug 19, 2005

County: Burnett

Disposition: Alleged
Case Images: 1 files available

Alleged: Michael Mardell

Responding to smells and reports of urine and feces, Burnett County Health and Human Services condemned a house on Peterson Road Aug. 19, after finding multiple animals, dead and alive, inside and outside the property.

The owner of the house, Michael Mardell, 34, was arrested and charged with one felony count of animal abuse, along with six other counts of adequate space, ventilation, sanitation, food and water, and cruelty neglect.

Sheriff's Deputy Julie Turner said Mardell hoarded 30 animals at his house, leaving some outside during the month of July.

The list of animals included five living rabbits, six dead rabbits, 13 living dogs, one dead dog, one dead guinea pig and four dead rodents. A cat was never found, and believed to have been hiding outside or in the basement.

The dead animals found in Mardell's freezer, including a dog, which had been there since August 2004.

The Burnett County Humane Society took the living animals, where they will be treated for any diseases.

The Burnett County Sheriff's Department first saw the place Aug. 17 after getting a call about the conditions of his home and the animals, but were unable to locate Mardell and see through the windows because they were boarded up.

The following day, Mardell took a stray dog from Frederic back to his house, causing the Burnett County Sheriff's Department to request an inspection warrant. It matched the description of a missing dog, reported Aug. 15 from the Frederic Police Department Aug. 15.

They returned to the house Aug. 19 and heard animals on the property. Deputy Julie Turner said described the smell outside as an "over-powering, obnoxious feces smell."

Mardell pulled in with the stray dog after they began searching for any entryway to the house. He told deputies that he had been living in his van so that the animals could be in the house. After looking at the inside, deputies called in Health and Human Services to look at the house, where they deemed it unacceptable for human habitation.

Inside, it was a huge mess with garbage, junk and animal food everywhere. Anywhere she walked something was full of urine, feces or both.

"The garage and the house were bad, with the exception of one bedroom, where one of the animals tried scratching their way out," she said. "The bathroom was the worst."

Now the county health department is sending an inspector to check the structural damage outside of the house due to urine and feces soaking in. The inspector will then make an estimate of how much it will cost to fix it and compare it to the actual worth. Turner said the house was fine five years ago.

Turner said Mardell didn't mind getting arrested, but he was sad saying, "don't take my animals away."

Mardell was showing some form of mental illness because he hoards so many things that he doesn't get rid of them. Turner said hoarders don't realize they're not only hurting themselves but everything around them.

The animals, in the meantime, will be held at the Humane Society until seizure review, which Mardell will now have to request in court. He has until Aug. 29 to do so. But Turner said the ultimate goal in this is that he never be allowed to own another animal again, based on the living conditions.


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