Woman arrested after police find father living with hundreds of rats

Woman arrested after police retrieve hundreds of rats from elderly father’s home

OJAI, CA (KEYT/CNN) - A California woman is accused of keeping her 96-year-old father in a filthy house, infested with hundreds of rats.

Catherine Ann Vandermaesen faces animal cruelty charges and adult neglect charges.

Karin and John Rudio, neighbors of Vandermaesen, have seen hundreds of rats come through their backyard and ruin their belongs.

“The rats have eaten all my flowers,” said Karin Rudio. “Rats just running around here. The house of horror. It was dirty, there was papers on the floor, dog crap all over. It was inhabitable and very unsanitary.”

Catherine Ann Vandermaesan faces animal cruelty and Officials also impounded dogs, cats and rabbits from the home.
Catherine Ann Vandermaesan faces animal cruelty and Officials also impounded dogs, cats and rabbits from the home. (Source: KEYT/CNN)

Ventura County deputies made a visit to the house last week.

They got a tip from the Ventura County Adult Protective Services about Vandermaesen not properly caring for her 74-year-old sister and elderly father.

But Vandermaesen and her sister did not allow authorities inside the house.

"We came up with a plan the very next day to have a task force go out to the residence and when Adult Protective Services were contacted again the 96-year-old male was now the focus of our entry to make sure he was OK," said Detective Joseph Preciado, of Ventura County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies said a strong urine and feces odor could be smelled from 20 feet from the front door.

Officials said eight dogs were impounded, two cats, a parrot, two bunnies, and hundreds of rats.

"Based off of Ventura County Animal Control and the humane society they estimated another 200-700 rats, wild rats living within the residence," Preciado said. "She was actually in charge of the care for her elderly father and for all the animals in the residence, that is why we are able to arrest her for the elder abuse charge and also for the animal neglect charge."

Catherine Ann Vandermaesan faces animal cruelty and Officials also impounded dogs, cats and rabbits from the home.
Catherine Ann Vandermaesan faces animal cruelty and Officials also impounded dogs, cats and rabbits from the home.

Deputies said this isn’t the first incident with Vandermaesen.

There have been reports of these same issues in the past.

“That poor dad is one 90 years old, and he is basically bed ridden,” Karin Rudio said.

"We have been trying to get rid of these people for the last year,” she said. “We have been to the city plenty of times and filled out papers, and we are not the only ones."

Medical professionals made sure that Vandermaesen father and sister were fine.

Both are in custody of adult protective services.

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