By Paul Thompson
July 5, 2017
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – Three Chihuahuas and a mixed-breed dog were rescued from an unoccupied Northeast home on the afternoon of Wednesday, July 5.
Animal Control officer Chris Harriman told the Northeast News that the residence, located near the intersection of Fremont and Independence Avenue, was covered in trash, feces and urine.
“You can’t see anything inside of this house. All the windows are blacked out so that no one can see inside. There’s good reason, because there’s nothing to see inside,” Harriman said. “About every area that you could step on was covered in feces, and if you weren’t stepping on feces, you’re stepping on trash. I’d estimate that its been years that the dogs have been kept in this condition.”
At one point the homeowners – who authorities believe reside at a different residence – arrived at the scene. Harriman described the individuals as “agitated,” saying that the male homeowner went as far as to threaten violence after Harriman presented a search warrant for the premises.
“The male homeowner threatened to shoot me and reached for his pocket,” Harriman said. “I don’t know what happened, because I had turned around and walked away. I was more worried about the dogs in the house at that point.”
Other witnesses on the scene told the Northeast News that the homeowner pulled a firearm magazine out of his pocket.
Authorities had been investigating the home since Tuesday, June 27, in response to several anonymous tips questioning the condition of the premises. Harriman said that a strong odor was discernible from the front porch, and that attempts to contact the owner to allow Animal Control to remove the dogs proved unsuccessful. He added that when reached, the owner insisted she’d been feeding and watering the dogs every day. The owner also told authorities that there were no issues inside the property.
Evidence compiled over the past week, however, led Animal Control officers to present a search warrant to a judge on the morning of July 5. By that afternoon, the warrant had been signed. According to Harriman, the Chihuahuas were suffering from maladies including hair loss as a result of the conditions.
“The Chihuahuas inside of the house all appeared to have healthy body weights, but all three of them had minor to significant hair loss. They’re on their way to be checked out by the veterinarian right now,” he said. “It could be as simple as a flea allergy, but its likely a chronic issue from just being warehoused in those conditions. It’s really hard to breathe in there.”
One of the Chihuahuas actually had to be retrieved from the roof of the home. The dog had access to the roof through a crack between the window frame and a second-floor air conditioning unit.
“Truth be told, it’s a lot easier to capture that dog out in the open on the roof than it was inside of the property with all of the debris that was in there,” Harriman said.
Animal Control sent the dogs over to Kansas City Pet Project to be examined by a veterinarian. The shelter will then provide a report that can eventually be presented as evidence in court.
“Any dog kept in those conditions is going to have chronic issues. The skin issue is exterior, and it’s easy to see. It’s the problems inside of the dogs – respiratory issues or anything like that,” Harriman said. “Breathing that for years is going to damage an animal.”
Harriman noted that the owners will likely be cited for animal cruelty for keeping the dogs in an environment that’s not safe. In addition, none of the dogs have current City licenses.
“These charges, with a conviction or a guilty plea, carry the possibility of jail time,” Harriman said. “Thirty days in jail is the most I’ve ever gotten for somebody. That’s per dog, as far as I’m concerned, so that could really stack up.”
Those potential charges continued to stack up on July 6, when a 3-1-1 tip led animal control officers back to the Northeast home to rescue a fourth Chihuahua from the premises. Authorities received the tip late in the afternoon on July 6, and had obtained another search warrant and removed the fourth Chihuahua by 8:30 p.m. The dog was also taken to Kansas City Pet Project.
Representatives from the Kansas City, Missouri Neighborhoods and Housing Services Department indicated that more violations will be coming for the property. The department has issued a board-up notice for the home, meaning that the homeowners won’t be able to enter until the codes issues are addressed.