HARRISON — Thirteen cats and two dogs were removed from an Orchard Place home Monday after the Buildings Department ruled the residence was uninhabitable.
It was the third time since 2007 that humane-law enforcement officials responded to complaints about pet conditions at 5 Orchard Place, said Kenneth D. Ross, chief of the Humane Law Enforcement Division of SPCA of Westchester.
According to town records, the home is owned by Susan Buschel, Douglas Buschel, who is a police lieutenant and police chief candidate, and his sister Laurie Ann Arcuri, who lives at the home, a friend confirmed. Douglas Buschel does not live at the home.
Ross discovered overflowing cat litter boxes, filthy floors and a strong cat urine odor during a visit 10 days ago to investigate a complaint. The conditions prompted him to contact Child Protective Services for the three children who live there.
“The heavy ammonia smell is not healthy for anyone’s lungs,” he said.
The town Buildings Department ordered the home vacated and told Arcuri she had to get rid of some of the cats. When she didn’t comply, Ross said, the town got a court order to have the animals taken.
Arcuri declined to talk to a reporter while workers from the New Rochelle Humane Society rounded up the cats and put them in cages. A building inspector declined to comment at the scene. Buildings head Robert FitzSimmons did not respond to a phone message.
Cleaners could be seen Monday afternoon working inside the home, which seemed maintained from the outside.
Friend Cathy McCann said the animal seizure was unfair because Arcuri had already planned to find new homes for some of the cats.
She said she believes someone alerted the press about the home to make Lt. Buschel look bad. Buschel is one of three candidates the town is considering for police chief.
“She is a single mom,” McCann said. ” She takes good care of her children, and the cats are in perfectly healthy shape. She does the best she can.”
Ross said the animals didn’t appear to have any diseases or infections, adding that he believes the home has been filled with as many as 20 cats. When he was called to the home in 2007, he encountered a urine stench and a cut window screen, where feral cats would run in and out. Ross was called last year, but both times she cooperated and got rid of some cats. She cooperated Monday with the seizure, Ross said.