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Authorities Investigate Cat-Hoarding Case In South Philadelphia

diana-web Diana Rocco
Diana Rocco joined the Eyewitness News team as a general assign...
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By Diana Rocco

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -Authorities investigated a cat-hoarding case in South Philadelphia Friday night.

The conditions are deplorable and the smell just from the sidewalk is unbearable.

“The smell whips right down the street into your home,” said neighbor Jim McHale.

A neighbor called the PSPCA.  After years of complaints, officers searched the home on the 2800 block of Snyder Avenue to find dead cats, bones, a bug and rat infestation, and what looks like years of both animal and human excrement – with no running water inside.

“The whole ceiling in the front bedrooms is totally collapsed, you can see the sky.  It was a typical hoarder house, feces and urine everywhere,” said George Bengal of the PSPCA.

Animal control officers found seven living cats and a possum hiding in parts of the house. But there is no telling exactly how many since gaping holes in the walls allowed dozens to escape. In the backyard, another gruesome discovery.

“In the backyard, in the shed was filled with skeletons of dead animals,” said Bengal.  “Our forensic team took those remains and we’ll try to determine what type of animals they are.”

Authorities say 52-year-old Leo Vianelli is in police custody and faces animal cruelty charges.  Police say the homeowner died three to five years ago and Vianelli and his girlfriend had been squatting there.

“I had no where to go,” said Elizabeth Martin.

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