Catherine Ann Vandermaesen, 65, of Ojai, Calif. was charged last week with elder abuse and failure to care for animals.
Inside the house they found her 96-year-old father, 74-year-old sister and numerous pets sharing their space with hundreds of rats, in conditions police described as unfit for human or animal living. There was so much fecal and urine matter in her home that police detected a smell of ammonia about 20 feet from the house. They found 12 dogs, two rabbits, a cat, an African grey parrot police said. Officials with Ventura County Animal Control later estimated that another 200 to 700 wild rats were loose and living inside two bedrooms, the garage and walls. Ventura County Adult Protection Services took custody of Vandermaesen’s father and helped her sister gain temporary housing, police said.