Valpo area home raided for animal neglect
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent October 15, 2012 1:22PM
| Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 17, 2012 6:13AM
VALPARAISO — As officials from Porter County Animal Control and the county’s animal shelter rounded up her pets, Deborah Brewer blamed “a severe depression” for the condition of her house, which reportedly was, in some places, inches deep with animal feces.
“It’s my worst nightmare, taking the only things I love in this world,” she said Monday outside her home at 405 Sturgeon Drive, in the Salt Creek Commons subdivision. She said she is willing to relinquish her dogs to the Porter County Animal Shelter for adoption, but not her 10 cats.
“I cannot afford to bail them out,” she said of the dogs, adding she knows they will be properly cared for if they are adopted.
In all, Animal Control seized seven dogs and one cat from the home; Brewer agreed to surrender the rest of the cats once she catches them.
Brewer, 61, faces charges of animal neglect, a Class A misdemeanor; the case is being forwarded on to the Porter County Prosecutor’s Office. Brewer must post bond for a hearing to get her pets back; if she does not post bond in 10 days, they will be put up for adoption.
Members of the Porter County Hazardous Materials Team determined ammonia levels in the ranch home were dangerously high when they arrived at the scene, and opened windows to air out the house before officials removed the pets.
A representative from Adult Protective Services was on hand to assess Brewer, a widow who lives alone and works in Portage. Dan Boyd, an environmental health specialist with the Porter County Health Department, evaluated the condition of her house.
In addition to the feces and some clutter, Boyd said the home doesn’t have running water — Brewer said it was shut off two months ago because of a leak — which could expedite an order from the Porter County Health Department for Brewer to repair or vacate the home.
“This is kind of a severe case. It isn’t something we see every day,” Boyd said, adding the process usually includes a series of letters to a homeowner to give them a chance to remedy the home. “We might expedite the situation because I don’t think she will be able to repair the house.”
As a fetid stench wafted from Brewer’s home, neighbor Shannon Oslizlo, who lives across the street and contacted Animal Control about a week and a half ago, said the smell made her 13-year-old son, who has asthma, ill.
Oslizlo said Animal Control had been to Brewer’s house before, but the odor has permeated the neighborhood since she moved in five years ago.
“I’m so thankful they came out here to take care of this. We can’t stand it,” Oslizlo said, adding Brewer leaves her home only to go to work, does not answer her door, and relies on neighbors to mow her lawn and clear snow from her driveway.
Brewer, who helped coax a Great Dane mix named Jake to an Animal Control truck, said Jake, the largest of her dogs, was a rescue who was used as bait for dog fighting. Her other dogs — some rescued, some purchased — include four pugs, a Boston terrier and a Chihuahua.
“They get a better home. That’s all I care about,” she said.