Photos show California home where man, 96, was found living with hundreds of rats

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office released images dated March 14 showing the filthy interior of a rat-infested home in Ojai, Calif., where a 96-year-old man was living with his daughter.

Catherine Ann Vandermaesen, 65, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of felony elder abuse and misdemeanor animal neglect, the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

The images show floors caked with animal feces, cages filled with rats, a kitchen piled high with dirty dishes and garbage, and a urine-stained bed strewn with bottles, newspapers and napkins.

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Vandermaesen didn’t want to allow deputies inside the home during a welfare check last Wednesday in Ojai, a small city in a rural valley northwest of Los Angeles, the statement said. A sheriff’s task force returned the next day and encountered multiple pets and urine and feces throughout the residence.

Eight dogs, two rabbits, a cat, an African gray parrot and 55 pet rats were removed. Animal Control estimated the house was infested with another 200 to 700 rats, roaming the two-bedroom house, its walls and garage.

Vandermaesen’s elderly father and her 74-year-old sister, who deputies described as a “possible victim,” were taken by ambulance to a hospital. Their conditions were unknown.

County welfare authorities assumed custody of Vandermaesen’s father, who uses a wheelchair. Officials also helped the sister get temporary housing services.

Vandermaesen had “willfully caused or permitted the health of her elderly father to suffer” by allowing him to live at the home, officials said.

The city has yellow-tagged the home and declared it “unlivable and a danger to the occupants and animals.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/photos-Ventura-Sheriff-rats-Ojai-home-elder-abuse-13705840.php.

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