By J. PATRICK PEPPER
DEARBORN — A little more than a week after police found more than 100 Chihuahuas living in floor-to-ceiling junk at an east side bungalow July 22, the house is empty.
It wasn’t easy.
City contractors spent eight days and countless man-hours removing enough contents from the 1,300-square-foot house to fill nine 30- to 40-yard trash containers. Among the urine and feces covered items removed were obsolete TVs, old mattresses, radio broadcasting equipment and stacks of years-old newspapers.
The clutter is in addition to 112 Chihuahuas taken in by the Dearborn Animal Shelter and about 160 dead Chihuahuas discovered in freezers throughout the basement of the house on Orchard Street.
The homeowner, 56-year-old Kenneth Lang Jr., remained in psychiatric treatment as of press time Friday.
Lang’s sister on Thursday obtained power of attorney and gave city officials permission to dispose of her brother’s belongings and initiate the demolition process on the house. City building inspectors previously declared the house unfit for human habitation because it was so imbued with dog excrement.
City spokeswoman Mary Laundroche said the timetable for the demolition is 60 days, but that Lang’s family also was looking into having a private company handle the process. The city will try to recoup some of the costs associated with the demolition and cleanup effort from Lang’s estate, or possibly through the sale of the land, she said.
Lang’s sister also granted legal custody of the dogs to the animal shelter, where they had been receiving health screens and medical treatment. Shelter spokeswoman Sandy Boulton said the dogs have started to acclimate to their new surroundings, and that the majority of them appear to be in decent health. Officials believe most of the dogs had never been outside.
More than 500 applications have been filled out to take home one of the dogs, which should start being adopted by the end of the week after being further assessed by shelter personnel. Boulton said the shelter has received a significant number of donations since the dogs arrived. At times, cars with donations lined up the shelter driveway out to Greenfield and tents had to be set up to handle the volume of contributions.
“The nice thing is people have realized we’ve incurred a lot of costs with this, and they’ve shown that with their overwhelming generosity,” Boulton said.
But with the shelter already at capacity prior to the dogs’ arrival and rescue costs estimated at about $100,000, more help likely will be needed. For donation information go to www.dearbornanimals.org or call (313) 943-2697.
By J. PATRICK PEPPER