MASON CITY, Iowa – “I was wondering what was going on and the one guy told me they were going in after the cats,” said Jack Newman of Mason City.
Newman looked on as authorities executed a search warrant on his neighbor’s home in the 800 block of 5th street SW. Police, animal control and the department development services pulled dead and decomposing cats from the home. According to court records, Luella Duenow owns the rundown property.
“She always took care of them but I don’t know what happened,” he said.
Police said they started to receive calls from the public around two months ago but haven’t been able to go in until Wednesday.
“Due to all the cold weather and snow we’ve had trouble doing anything,” said Captain Mike McKelvey of the Mason City Police Department.
Authorities pulled three dead cats from the property as well as two that were still alive but in poor health. Police believe there could still be more but couldn’t get beyond the front door because of clutter and feces.
“To venture too far in to that place would be very dangerous,” he said. “The floor could give way or who else knows what other hazards are in there that could injure somebody.”
This isn’t the first time Duenow has been in trouble with the city for similar reasons. A search in Iowa Courts online shows 76 charges between February 1997 and March of ’99. 45 of those charges were dismissed or the court found her not guilty. She paid a fine for the other 26 and spent time in jail one time.
The house has been white tagged and deemed unsafe to occupy. Captain McKelvey said the city will likely condemn the home. That’s just fine with Newman.
“I would buy the property and landscape it,” he said. “It would look nice and the neighborhood could use it.”
Police said they will continue to monitor the home and check traps that have been set to catch other animals that may still be alive.
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