KELLER/FORT WORTH (CBS11) – A hearing next week will determine if the Humane Society of North Texas will be given custody of 111 animals seized in Keller.
The dogs and cats were found alive; but, in squalid conditions in a home on Anita Street.
Meanwhile, the situation resonated with homeowners a few miles away in Fort Worth who say the elderly woman’s daughter is also hoarding animals in a home she owns there.
“You can stand here on night and hear the animals inside that home,” says homeowner Brian Mastropiero. “You can stand here with the wind blowing this way and you can smell what is just foul, it almost smells like death.”
Mastropiero is also President of the Deerfield Homeowners’ Association. He says fines levied to address upkeep and piles of garbage have gone ignored and the filth has become a health concern for the neighborhood.
“At night, you’re out sitting by your pool… and you look up and you see a rat running across the fence line. Nobody wants to see that, we don’t want to live in those conditions. We can go knock on doors and every one of these homeowners will tell you, that’s the problem.”
But, knocking on doors wasn’t necessary. Neighbors met CBS11 in the street, ready to vent their frustration with repeated calls to Code Compliance.
“When we call, they’re like ‘we know about it, she’s already on our radar’,” says homeowner Laurie Tower. “Well, what are you guys gonna do? Keller? Wham, bam, they were done… it’s been years for us!”
Neighbor Dena Blackwell agrees. “There are flies in everybody’s yard. I mean, it’s a health issue in addition to the fact that we really really care about the animals that are in there and it’s sad. It’s very sad.”
Dallas attorney Trey Branham, with Dean Omar Branham LLP, says homeowner associations have the power of their bylaws and should vigorously document violations and the penalties associated with unpaid fines. And beyond that “be patient” says Branham. “There’s a mechanism to get ahold of the house in order to pay off any unpaid fines that the HOA has assessed. The process can be slow; but, it works.”
The neighbors say they remember when the long time homeowners were a friendly part of the tight knit community, but then their behavior began to change. Now, the HOA is pursuing legal options.
“What we’re down to now is a foreclosure,” says Mastropiero, “and that’s a very long lengthy process and it’s expensive. It takes a lot of time and for those homeowners who live here, it can’t come fast enough.”
Officials with Fort Worth’s Code Compliance office confirmed the homeowners’ long history of code violations, telling CBS11 they can appreciate the neighbors’ frustrations, but insist that the process is moving forward.
Next month, the city’s Building Standards Commission will address the situation next month.