Animal house: Dogs, cats, goats, chickens, rabbits seized from unkempt Ross home
October 2, 2008 4:00 AM
Mary Lu Frankovic, 56, with her rooster, Hank, watches as humane officers remove rabbits from her home on Ridgeside Road in Ross yesterday.
By Michael A. Fuoco Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The two-bedroom home at 102 Ridgeside Road in Ross is tiny, but that didn't stop residents Mary Lu Frankovic and her son, Christopher Frankovic, from filling it with more than 100 animals -- dogs and cats, goats and chickens, rabbits and a duck.
Carrying a search warrant and assisted by Ross police, humane agents from Animal Friends removed the menagerie from the home yesterday so the animals could receive medical treatment and appropriate care. Ross police said there were approximately 30 cats, four goats, 20 to 30 chickens, 50 rabbits, nine dogs and a duck.
Ross police Sgt. William Barrett said those who went into the house had trouble breathing, given the overpowering stench of animal waste. In one bedroom, cat feces were 10 inches high, he said.
"They were absolutely stunned," he said of the officers. "It was quite a scene. It was deplorable. Some of the officers said it was the worst they had ever seen."
The dogs, cats and rabbits were taken to Animal Friends for medical assessment exams. The other animals will be placed under medical quarantine or moved to a farm for medical care.
More than 100 summary neglect charges are expected to be filed by humane officers. A township code enforcement officer was on the scene and housing code violations also are possible.
Humane Officer Kathy Hecker said she first visited the residence upon receiving a tip from a concerned neighbor. Ms. Frankovic, 56, who claimed that she was taking the animals to auction, was ordered to move them out of her home and into proper environments.
But when Animal Friends' humane officers returned Tuesday, Ms. Frankovic would not let them inside. Because of that, humane officers obtained a search warrant for yesterday's visit.
While the animals were being removed, Ms. Frankovic initially was calm but became agitated when the dogs were brought out. She pleaded to be able to keep one of them, named Honey.
Her son, 33, arrived and went into the house. Sgt. Barrett said he became so agitated that officers had to restrain him and put him into a police car until he calmed down.
No criminal charges were filed yesterday but the mother and son have involvement with the criminal justice system. They were charged on July 22 by a federal grand jury with using stolen identities to buy treasury bonds. According to the indictment, they took another person's name and Social Security number to forge nine $1,000 savings bonds.
The federal government also accused Ms. Frankovic of opening several credit card accounts with the victim's name and other forms of identification to make purchases.
Sgt. Barrett and other Ross officers conducted that investigation in 2007 and turned it over to federal authorities. During the probe, he said, he had been in the house and found it to be dirty but nothing like what was discovered yesterday.
"It was quite unkempt with two dogs, two rabbits and two ducks," he said. "It was very dirty but not to this magnitude."