YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – When neighbors saw the pictures — the floor covered in feces, the stacks of trash and beer cans — they couldn’t believe it.
“I was just shocked. I was just shocked,” said Rose Hardy.
Hardy lives across the street from the elderly man on Old Furnace Road who was ordered to clean up his home after it was condemned by the Youngstown health commissioner. He was taken to St. Elizabeth Health Center for a health and welfare check when Youngstown Police found him living in filth.
Youngstown Police Sgt. Brent Gaitanis said the conditions inside the home were some of the worst that he has seen, and he said the man was living among urine, feces and trash. There was also no heat in the home, according to Gaitanis.
The man’s four dogs were also taken away this week, and a fifth dog was found dead on the front porch. Animal Charity Humane Society, which took the four dogs, did an autopsy on the fifth dog, but it was so decomposed that a cause of death was unable to be verified.
Animal Charity said the other dogs had signs of being malnourished.
Still, Hardy said she always thought her neighbor was a good dog owner.
“He took really care of his animals. Those animals were just like show dogs,” she said. “That’s what they were. They were big and beautiful.”
Other neighbors described the man as territorial and reclusive. Hardy said about a year ago, she did notice some changes with the man.
“He had stopped walking the dogs, and I think that’s the time when it started going down,” she said.
Police were called on Monday after a mailman reported the conditions.
Animal Charity says when they found the dogs, they were extremely dirty. And the two older dogs were very skinny.
“I could tell they had lost some weight, but when I heard the dogs were underfed and everything, I could have fed the dogs,” Hardy said.
A humane agent said the dogs are doing better now. Hardy said she has a wish for them.
“Whoever gets the dogs, please take good care of them,” she said. “They’re not bad dogs. They’re beautiful dogs.”
The homeowner has 14 days to clean up the property, and the city is offering assistance to find that help, if needed.
Tara Cioffi, environmental director at the Youngstown City Health District, said the man living in the home is not allowed to re-enter the property until code violations are corrected and conditions by the health commissioner are met.
It is yet unknown if the man will face any criminal charges.