Rabies suspected in cats from Harrisburg 'horror' home - abc27 WHTM

Rabies suspected in cats from Harrisburg 'horror' home

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Following a suspected case of extreme cat hoarding in Harrisburg, City Councilwoman Sandra Reid answered pleas for action.

The councilwoman toured the troubled property Tuesday.

"Oh my God! Phew! Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!” yelled Reid. “That's what your house smells like?"

After getting a good whiff of cat urine, the city councilwoman suddenly understand the gravity of what Gloria Skorija has been living next to for more than two years. ABC27 asked city officials to tour the property, and Reid was the one official who responded.

Skorija gave Reid a tour of her property and pointed out how her next-door neighbor, Donna Layton, has helped harbor a home for health risks. Skorija took Reid into her garage and showed where Layton’s caving roof created holes for cats and other vermin to get inside.

"There was cat urine and feces everywhere from cats coming over in our garage through her garage,” she said.

With a look of disgust on her face, Reid responded with compassion.

“I’m so sorry you're having this problem," Reid said.

According to a source close to the situation, at least one of the deceased cats taken from Layton’s property on Monday is suspected of having rabies. Final results are pending from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

City Codes Director David Patton said Layton was cited for codes violation, a misdemeanor. Court records obtained by ABC27 revealed Layton has been cited seven prior times beginning in 2012. According to a yellow sign on Layton’s front door that reads, "Unfit for Human Dwelling," Layton was kicked out June 6, 2013.

Skorija said Layton has since lived in a camper in her side yard. She said a new camper arrived last week, while the older camper remains in the back portion of the yard. Both have become a breeding ground for mice and rats.

"So, you have a rodent problem?” Reid asked.

Skorija responded, “Yes.”

The Manada Street resident pulled out paperwork that dated back to 2011 and 2012, complaints to city codes and Harrisburg Animal Control. Skorija said she is tired and literally sick from the problem that she felt the city ignored.

Reid walked a few houses down to speak with other neighbors.

"It definitely smells, has a very horrible smell,” one woman told Reid.

Following the untimely passing of Public Safety Chair Eugenia Smith, Reid said this case would have been in her wheelhouse and would have felt compelled to act. Reid vowed she would carry on Smith’s legacy and do everything in her power to remedy the situation.

"I'm confident they'll take action,” she said. “I'm quite certain you'll see something come of this."

Skorija said she has been waiting years to finally have hope about getting the problem fixed. She was surprised to have Reid visit the property and get a promise. Reid offered Skorjia a hug.

"I'm so sorry,” Reid said. “I feel so bad for you.”

City spokeswoman Joyce Davis said the administration takes the case very seriously and public safety officials were planning the next course of action.

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