Sense check on animal wellness/animal cruelty check
August 20, 2018 2:25 PM   Subscribe

Is a pervasive animal waste smell in a stranger's yard enough reason to call for an animal cruelty check?

I walk past a house in my new neighborhood every day. From the sidewalk (about 15 feet away from the home's entrance) you can distinctly smell cat feces and urine. I find that concerning, but I'm not sure if that reason alone warrants a call to check the property.

I haven't noticed anything else except 1 stray kitten on the same property, and it seemed alright - not noticeably skinny, no bare fur patches, etc, but it's not like I saw it super up close either. It definitely didn't have a collar, though.

In my area, the police deal with those calls, so I don't want to involve them unless it's necessary.
posted by rachaelfaith to Pets & Animals (10 answers total)
Best answer: If you can smell cat piss and shit from the street, I'd be worried about the person who lives there. That can't be a healthy environment.
posted by GoblinHoney at 3:27 PM on August 20, 2018 [12 favorites]

Best answer: If the police are going to handle the call regardless, could you frame it as a well-being check on the resident instead? Or, alternatively, ask some of your new neighbors what the story is about that house and its human and feline occupants?
posted by DrGail at 3:32 PM on August 20, 2018 [4 favorites]

posted by Seppaku at 4:22 PM on August 20, 2018

Is there a fence or other feature in the yard that would tend to attract feline attention? Because cats love to back up to something to pee and poop, like a fence, wall, or hole. And it smells really bad, much worse than dog waste. That's just what outdoor cats do. I would not even consider calling in this situation.
posted by wnissen at 4:54 PM on August 20, 2018

Could you call it in instead as a code enforcement issue for the smell complaint, rather than as a police issue? In most places code issues are handled by different people than the police, but it still results in a city official at least stopping by.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:21 PM on August 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Yeah, sorry, didn't mean to disregard the well-being of the people living there, I was just thinking of the pets because that's what I smelled.

I don't live on the block, it's just one of the places I pass on my half-mile walk to the train. I don't see neighbors out there very much since I pass by at hours when people don't tend to be home/outside.

And no, I don't see a fence, but I can't see into the backyard well. There might be one at the very back, but it's open on 3 sides at least and I only walk past the front.
posted by rachaelfaith at 5:21 PM on August 20, 2018

Best answer: A friend had this situation with next door neighbors and when they finally called it in, the authorities discovered a hoarded house with too many cats inside. The occupants were old enough that senior care stepped in and the house was rehabbed and sold. It is better for the neighborhood and the occupants, even if they did not want to leave the house because it was not healthy for them be there.
You will probably be helping out more than just the cats if you call it in. It is possible that things escalate in an unfortunate way and I am guessing that is your main concern. I think helping the people involved is a much more likely outcome than hurting them.
posted by soelo at 5:41 PM on August 20, 2018 [4 favorites]

I would call this in.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:21 PM on August 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Agreeing with the people who suggested calling this in as a welfare check on the resident. The police will still check in, but ideally it means they won't treat the person or people who live there as criminals from the get-go. If there is an animal welfare problem this will give them an opportunity to see that as well.
posted by Tehhund at 4:52 AM on August 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, all. Doing this today.
posted by rachaelfaith at 5:41 AM on August 21, 2018

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