Extreme animal hoarding cleanup costly and time-consuming - CBS 5 - KPHO

Extreme animal hoarding cleanup costly and time-consuming

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TEMPE, AZ (CBS5) -

There have been several cases of extreme animal hoarding in Maricopa County during the last month, including two this week.

Law enforcement and animal rescue workers removed dozens of animals from homes and dealt with an overwhelming amount of filth.

On July 21, Gilbert police and Arizona Humane Society workers removed 79 cats from a house near Ray and Val Vista.

Before going in they had to air things out because ammonia levels from cat urine and feces were so high.

Three weeks later, even with its drywall removed, an eye-watering stench is obvious from outside of the residence.

"It is stronger than putting your nose over a bleach bottle," said Joe Trasser, co-owner of AZ Bio Cleanup & Restoration, about the smell caused by the build-up of cat urine and feces.

He and his team have dealt with the aftermath of extreme animal hoarding firsthand.

"The house becomes overwhelmed with the cats and it becomes one large litter box," Trasser explained.

The house in Gilbert had urine coating the walls and piles of feces on the floor.

On Tuesday Aug. 5, Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies found a similar situation in Fountain Hills involving 50 cats.

Investigators had to walk through excrement two feet high.

That same day, deputies found a 78-year-old man dead in his Whittman home along with at least 50 dogs and cats and an incredible amount of filth.

Trasser said making homes like these safe to live in again takes weeks of hard work.

"Removing walls, removing drywall, removing ceiling drywall," he said.

Wearing hazmat gear, crews also remove flooring and everything is disinfected and sprayed with an odor-blocking sealant.

"Sometimes we've had to go in and remove the entire insulation from the walls, from the ceiling and also remove the air ducts," said Trasser.

He said it can cost as much as $25,000 to clean a home damaged by extreme animal hoarding.

That doesn't include the cost of rebuilding and it's not covered by insurance.

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