Police have charged a 63-year-old woman with cruelty to animals after more than 50 cats were found roaming inside her home near Mt. Pleasant Rd. and Eglinton Ave. E. on Monday.
The OSPCA seized the cats one day after a pollster going door to door called police over the odour emanating from the Manor Rd. home. Neighbours, who had complained for years about the state of the house, watched as emergency crews broke down the back door when the homeowner didn’t answer. Inside, firefighters found that the urine and feces causing the stench had also buckled the floorboards.
The two-storey brick house, still surrounded by yellow police tape Monday evening, is no longer habitable, said an officer on the scene.
The homeowner, identified by neighbours as Diane Way, is reportedly staying with a friend and could not be reached for comment. Property records show that Way purchased the home in 1993 with a man neighbours say was her former husband. She took sole possession in 2004.
OSPCA spokeswoman Alison Cross said veterinarians are examining the cats, which are suffering from eye and respiratory problems. She said the investigation is ongoing and Way could be charged under the provincial animal welfare act as well as criminally.
Police have also charged Way with causing or permitting unnecessary suffering to animals. She will make her first court appearance in June.
Neighbours on both sides of Way’s home said they’ve been trying for years to get city officials to address the stench, which grows so putrid in the summer that they can’t go into their yards.
Peter Murphy and his wife, Eduarda Sousa, said they have tried all avenues, calling animal services, public health, municipal licensing and standards and their former councillor, Michael Walker. They were repeatedly told that no one could enter the house without the homeowner’s permission.
“It breaks my heart to know that I was living next door to cats which were suffering,” said Sousa. “But the house, you can see it from the outside, you can smell it from the outside. . . . Here’s a woman who obviously needed help and every attempt to get something done was ignored.”
The area’s new councillor, Josh Matlow, said he’s been making calls to “everyone imaginable” since the seizure.
“It doesn’t seem like there’s a very good system in place to be able to enter homes where there is reasonable suspicion of cat hoarding and rescue the cats and ensure that the neighbors are respected,” he said. “We hear a lot at city hall about how things need to change but this is a substantive matter that needs to be addressed by city hall and perhaps other levels of government.”
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