A former Phoenix man is accused of animal cruelty after investigators discovered 68 animals were housed inside a village apartment. The discovery was made two weeks ago after the man and his girlfriend moved out. Our Candace Hopkins spoke with a neighbor whose own home was invaded by the smells and by the animals themselves.
PHOENIX, N.Y. -- Sabrina Converse says her former neighbor, Steven Hart, isn't a bad person, but simply got in over his head.
"He was trying but couldn't keep up with them and when it got to be too much he just kinda said forget it and left," said Converse.
Police say what was left behind at this apartment on Cherry Street by Steven Hart was shocking: Dead animal carcasses, trash and feces, all as result of keeping 68 animals, including cats, dogs, ferrets, prairie dogs and other exotic pets.
Converse and her family shared the duplex with Hart and says as the animals piled up, so did the filth.
"There was one day that I went into our bedroom, we have the air conditioning in there so we keep the door closed and I had to like immediately run back out it smelled so bad," Converse said.
The Converses couldn't keep that smell, or the animals themselves, out of their apartment. Converse says it was about six months ago when she heard a strange scratching noise coming from her bedroom and when she went to investigate she found an alarming sight.
"The prairie dog was in between me and my child in the crib. I didn't even realize what it was, I just screamed and jumped up onto the bed and when I looked back, it was gone," said Converse.
The prairie dog had burrowed through the wall and police say feces from the animals covered the apartment. Even now with Hart gone, our camera found the back of the home and porch were littered with animal waste.
"He had actually taken the trays, filled it with the petting dust stuff and when it would get wet or dirty, he would scrap it out the kitchen window, so we started noticing a pile of that in the back yard," said Converse.
Police say Hart and his girlfriend moved out, taking some of the animals, but leaving others to die. He now faces seven counts of animal cruelty and police say more arrests are possible as the investigation continues.
Before this incident, the duplex was up for sale, but has since been pulled off the market.
Hart is scheduled to appear in Schroeppel Town Court on June 13th.