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Neighbours breathing easier after stinky house demolished in Stephenville

The house at 17 King Street in Stephenville, when there were more than 80 cats removed, is seen being demolished by an excavator last Thursday.
The house at 17 King Street in Stephenville, when there were more than 80 cats removed, is seen being demolished by an excavator last Thursday. - Frank Gale

Cyril and Trudy White of King Street in Stephenville were breathing a sigh of relief last Thursday as a stinky house next door was being demolished by an excavator.

More than 80 cats had been removed from the house after three visits by representatives of the Southwest Coast SPCA, members of the Bay St. George RCMP and the Town of Stephenville’s Animal Control officer.

Cyril White said it was a long time coming. He says it was August 2018 when he realized the smell was emanating from inside the home next door.

He reported it to the town and said the smell was even worse on warm summer days.

The couple said they were concerned for the health of the home's tenant, although they believe he was living in a camper outside the house.

“We don’t like to see people put out of their home but in this case, it wasn’t good for the tenant and it was affecting our lives,” Trudy said. “We just couldn’t take it anymore.”

This is the house on 17 King Street in Stephenville where more than 80 cats were removed, and the Stephenville town council placed an order for it to be remediated or demolished.
This is the house on 17 King Street in Stephenville where more than 80 cats were removed, and the Stephenville town council placed an order for it to be remediated or demolished.

Town council approved at its Sept. 19 meeting an order to vacate, remediate or demolish the property. The order was issued on Sept. 24 and gave the owner 21 days to comply.

Mayor Tom Rose said council's order was the right thing to do from a human health safety perspective.

He said for the neighbours next door to be affected by the smell, it was a measure that had to be taken.

Rose said there was no way to remediate the condition so there was no other option but to tear the house down.

He said the town had correspondence with the Whites, mobilized their staff and coordinated the demolition with the Southwest Coast SPCA and the RCMP for an outcome that should be satisfactory to all parties.

The owner of the house, Sean Hickey, said because of the state of the building it had to be destroyed, which was a loss for him.

He said under the Landlord Tenants Act, there was cause for immediate eviction where the house was uninhabitable.

Hickey said the issue has been long term but he complied quickly with the order, getting the house down a little more than a week later.

He said he felt sorry for his tenant noting he’s not a bad guy — just someone who loves cats.

The man who lived on the property could not be reached for comment.

Majority of cats removed from Stephenville home were euthanized

When the call came to help at a house overcrowded with cats at 17 King St. in Stephenville, the Southwest Coast SPCA was there.

SPCA chair Ted White said the RCMP initiated the investigation and two SPCA members went along on three occasions to assist in removing 85 cats.

He said in this situation, each cat was individually evaluated by a veterinarian with West Coast Veterinary Services. After determining which cats were healthy, the SPCA was brought in to find homes for them.

Ted White is the chairperson of the Southwest Coast SPCA.
Ted White is the chairperson of the Southwest Coast SPCA.

The Town of Stephenville was responsible for removing and transferring the cats to the pound, where the evaluations were done. The SPCA provided two people to help round up the felines and give police instructions on how to handle them.

Unfortunately, White said, many of the cats were diseased, sick, infected and filled with tumors. Fifteen adult cats and 12 kittens were saved after they were determined to be healthy .

“If the cats are sick you have to euthanize them. It’s the humane thing to do,” white told The Western Star.

White said he holds no malice towards the man who had the cats as he didn’t do any physical harm to them and was feeding them the best he could.

“He loved those cats and believed he was providing them shelter,” he said. The man was a rental tenant in the since demolished home.

White said the tenant had about eight cats early on, but he got overwhelmed because cats can reproduce so quickly.

“Having pets spayed or neutered prevents this from happening. It really only takes months for a cat colony to be formed,” he said.

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