As crews prepare to dig through debris and animal waste inside a Northeast Philadelphia home this afternoon, an official with the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says four dead cats have already been recovered from the single-family residence.
The SPCA is planning to go back into the Bickley Road home around noon today to resume rescue and recovery operations, according to Pennsylvania SPCA spokeswoman Wendy Marano.
It was difficult to rescue live cats Sunday night given the conditions of the home -- it is crawling with vermin, including rats and mice, and there are partially collapsed ceilings and deteriorated drywall -- and the animals' anti-social behavior as a result of their environment, Marano said. Three cats were rescued before the operation was postponed Sunday night.
"This is probably one of the worst cases we've ever seen. We say that a lot, but this one really has risen to the top," Marano said.
"There's a million places for these animals to hide," she added. "These are frightened animals."
Philadelphia Fire Department personnel found a man believed to be in his 70s unconscious inside the home, located on the 9100 block of Bickley Road, Sunday night. The elderly man was taken to Nazareth Hospital for treatment.
The SPCA has not filed any charges against the man at this point, Marano said.
"We think there are dozens of animals living in the house," she said.
There are also bats in the home.
Due to smells coming from hoarders' homes, summer is peak season for SPCA investigations into animal overcrowding. Marano noted hoarding presents health risks for others outside of the home where the situation occurs, too.
"If people suspect something, they should call us," she said.
The Pennsylvania SPCA can be reached at 215-426-6300. To report suspected animal cruelty, call 866-601-SPCA.