Southern California Man, 96, Found in Home with Hundreds of Rats

OJAI (AP) — Authorities say a Southern California woman is in custody after deputies discovered her 96-year-old father living in a home stinking of feces and filled with up to 700 rats.

Catherine Ann Vandermaesen (Credit: Ventura County Sheriff’s Office)

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office says Tuesday that Catherine Ann Vandermaesen was arrested on suspicion of elder abuse and animal neglect. It wasn’t known if she has an attorney.

Officials say Vandermaesen didn’t want to allow deputies inside the Ojai home during a welfare check last Wednesday. A sheriff’s task force returned the next day and encountered multiple pets and an overwhelming stench.

Eight dogs, two rabbits, a cat, a parrot and 55 rats were removed. Animal Control estimated the house was infested with another 200 to 700 rats.

Authorities took custody of Vandermaesen’s elderly father. The city declared the home unlivable.

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