In 'sad' case, a house of horrors in Bowdoin

Jose Leiva/Sun Journal

Maine Animal Damage Control agent Richard Burton Jr. investigates a house after a report of stray cats running around the property at the end of Burrough Road in Bowdoin on Wednesday. The house was occupied by an elderly man who had been recently removed. Several dead cats were found around the house.

BOWDOIN — Three live kittens were pulled out of a washing machine Wednesday night in a Burrough Road house filled with feces, carcasses, fleas and ticks.

An animal control worker was attempting to corral as many as four dozen cats and kittens running free inside the crumbling house at the end of the road. He was also contending with a slew of health hazards, including a tub filled with cat waste, buckets filled with human feces and animal carcasses scattered across the property.

Animal Damage Control Agent Richard Burton Jr. was working alone on the property after dark. A team of workers from various local and state agencies were expected to be on the scene by Thursday morning.

The elderly man who lived in the house had been removed and was being treated at a hospice. The man, said to be in his 70s, was not identified. Burton was called in to help at the house for what was reported as a few stray cats.

What he found was alarming.

"I've never seen a house like this," Burton said. "There are kittens all over the place, dead and alive. There are cats in the ceiling and the walls."

As Burton began moving through the trash-strewn house, he heard muffled cat cries from what served as a kitchen area. When he lifted the blood-spattered lid of a washing machine, he found three kittens inside.

"They were on their last legs," he said.

He was able to remove those kittens. By then, another worker from the Coastal Humane Society had responded to help at the scene, Burton said. That worker drove the three rescued kittens back to the Brunswick shelter.

Burton remained at the home, a two-story, unpainted house near the area where Burrough Road turns to dirt. It was not immediately known how long the occupant had lived in those conditions, Burton said. After the man was removed from the house, his daughter gave animal workers permission to go inside.

By nightfall, Burton had managed to capture three more cats. He expected to return to the property Thursday with traps and remove more animals from the house. From what he had seen and heard, he estimated there might be as many as 50 cats in and around the house.

Burton worked in short bursts because the smell inside the house could not be endured for long stretches. And, there were health perils.

"You can't walk in here without getting covered in fleas and ticks," he said, "and without getting fecal matter on your shoes."

On the second floor, Burton found a mattress that had been clawed through. Cats had burrowed inside the bedding as well as the walls around it. A pair of buckets next to the bed were filled with human waste, Burton said. Blood was spattered on the bed, floor and walls.

"The bed is crawling with fleas and bedbugs," Burton said. "I stood here for a while with my flashlight, just listening. I could hear cats in the walls."

There were also dead cats all around the property: two next to the front steps, dead for what Burton estimated was about a week; another in a shed, dead for about a month.

Beneath a stairwell, cat feces had piled up 6 inches high. Cupboard doors, most of them falling off, were spattered with fly waste. Some woodwork had been whittled down by a long period of cats clawing at it, Burton said. Indications were that the man lived inside the house with cats for many years.

Some who know the area said cats and kittens were often seen wandering in the roadway in front of the house. The man who lived there often stood out next to the road, they said.

Inside, there were canned goods in the cupboards as well as pots and pans filled with rotten food. A half-empty 12-pack of beer sat in a chair next to a book on home health remedies.

Few personal items were found amid the trash and waste. However, hanging alone on one wall was what appeared to be a child's drawing on construction paper. It depicted nine people drawn in crayon. One of them, in the middle, was labeled "Daddy."

Burton was still waiting for return phone calls by 9:30 p.m. He was unsure which agencies would respond on Thursday, although he expected more assistance from the Humane Society.

After closing up the house, Burton was preparing to deliver three of the captured cats to the shelter. He was hoping to save more when he returned.

"It's sad," he said. "It's really, really sad."

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What does that even mean?

"Just saying"? You keep typing it but what do you mean by it? His daughter could be in another country for all we know. Many people are driven away by their elderly family members and have no idea how they live because that person won't let anyone close enough to see.

 's picture

"Just saying" is about the

"Just saying" is about the worst saying I have heard. As if what is said isn't really meant or whomever said it hasn't a real clue. In this case, I would say the writer hasn't a clue and making up a story which could fill in the blanks about what was omitted in this article. Filling in the blanks are how rumors get started.

Denisa Laflamme's picture


I read the article and I didn't make up my own story, I did not start rumors either....personally I think your issue is that you are trying to defend a situation that you cant defend and you look stupid for it and I pointed that out. my "just saying" comment was MY OPINION not facts never did I ever say I was stating facts...but here are some FACTS for you.....MY PARENTS WOULD NEVER LIVE THAT WAY no matter how sick they were or incapable of maintaining their home,because myself and my sister would make sure of that. I DON'T CARE WHAT EXCUSES anyone has for this man living this is UNACCEPTABLE....someone dropped the ball in this family bottom you guys can put on your big girl britches and deal with it. Don't try to justify to me why this man lived in a dump and those types of conditions when it was UNNECESSARY....I cant understand why you guys would be defending anyone...unless you see nothing wrong with this situation and would allow your own family members to live that way????????

Seriously you guys really need to get a clue and I am all done responding to your crappy arguments about this article it has gone beyond the point of productive, now its just ignorant!!!!!!

 's picture

Am I defending the daughter?

Am I defending the daughter? I am saying I do not know the whole story. Neither do you if your only source is this article. You are making assumptions. This article is not about the daughter, it is about the condition those cats were left in when the man was taken to hospice. You do not know the daughter's role other than she gave permission for the cats to be removed. Your comments would not hold up in court.

Denisa Laflamme's picture

It means.....

My comment was made for you to take it anyway you want....I don't care what country his daughter could have been in or is in....if you have an elderly family member no matter how grumpy they are, I am sure you would want to check on them regularly and if you couldn't then I would hope to god you would have something in place to have them checked on. Bottom line is this man lived in horrible conditions and it was a danger to his health and the animals he had. If he had someone who checked in on him regularly then maybe he wouldn't be living in such unhealthy conditions.

In the 4th paragraph I think it states they were called because of stray cats, no it doesn't say who called, but it also doesn't say the daughter was the one who had him removed either....many assumptions all the way around. It does say they got permission from the daughter AFTER the father was removed from the home for anyone to enter the home. I don't care who gave permission to enter this dump, what I care about is why was this man living like that? This didn't happen overnight and it never should have become an issue!!!!

Any of you that are defending and saying don't assume that the daughter did this or the daughter may not be available, would you let your elderly parent live like that? I don't care if the daughter lives on the other side of the country she has a responsibility to make sure her father was getting his needs met and didn't live in such conditions......

And we wonder why society is the way it is today, no one wants to take responsibility for anything.


talk about making assumptions

Judgment is like a good cry. Sometimes when you get started it just feels too good to stop. Have you ever tried to get help for someone like that? I have. The authorities told me they are aware of the situation but can't go in until it reaches a certain level. We have no idea what the daughter's involvement is, so it's probably more accurate not to immediately decide the worst.

Denisa Laflamme's picture


Actually I have gotten help for people like that.....I have worked in mental health/medical field for many many years and honestly it doesn't take that long to get help when it is needed, guess you just need to know how to go about doing it or who to far as judging, I am not judging anyone I am simply stating my opinion and how disgusting this whole situation is. Again I will also state what I said earlier....I don't care how much involvement the daughter had fact is she either needed to assist in his care and wellbeing or have someone else involved. His house didn't get that way overnight and she had to have stopped over for a visit at some point and if she hadn't been there to visit then someone should have been stopping over to check in on him. There is a level of responsibility with our elderly folks and everyone seems to keep forgetting that....What if this was your father Kathy or Geraldine???????

You can make excuses and defend his family all you want but the bottom line is, his family dropped the ball where his care is concerned and I am blown away that there are actually people on here trying to justify this.....there truly is nothing anyone can say to change my mind on this issue....


k but that is actually the definition of judgment

Just so you know. It's going to be that much worse for you when something like this happens, because you have already decided that it can't.

Denisa Laflamme's picture


I think I am confused? I would never let my parents live in that situation and I would get them assistance before it ever even got that it isn't a case of cant happen, its a case of NOT going to happen so it isn't going to be worse for me. Whatever excuses you want to come up with if it makes you feel better and can justify the situation thats on you, I don't need excuses or justification cause it wouldn't be like that.....

Just for the record, I never said his daughter was a bad person or neglectful, all I said was there should have been intervention long before now whether it be a family member or other source, It isn't my place to judge anyone, I only know what I would have done......

Sadie Roberts's picture


this is a very sad's sad for the man, and very sad for those poor cats. i could never understand why someone in his condition does not call for help. maybe he was scared. those poor cats have suffered. and they might have to be put down, i;m sure they are wild. i have 2 feral cats and when i caught them all in a have a heart cage, i decided to keep 2 and one of there sibling went to the SPCA. after a week i called them to see how the kitten was doing and they told me they had to put her down cause she was to wild. i was able to tame her 2 siblings. i now wish i kept her,she'd still be alive poor thing. i hope if they are wild they can give them a chance. poor animals suffer from we humans so sad.

 's picture

WOW, this is crazy.

WOW, this is crazy.

 's picture

Horrible!! Perhaps this man

Horrible!! Perhaps this man should have been in a nursing home if his daughter could/would not look after her father. Kudos to the Coastal Humane Society for taking these poor kittens!!

Denisa Laflamme's picture

I agree

Obviously he could not care for himself and to live in those conditions is disgusting. I dont understand why a family member didnt step in and get him the help he needed....very sad....

 's picture

Not knowing the whole story,

Not knowing the whole story, perhaps the daughter is the one who had him removed from the situation. Neighbors saw him around and only complained about the cats.

Denisa Laflamme's picture

Reread the article

Geraldine, reread the article I think you will find they only went there because there was a complaint of stray cats, not a call from his daughter.....she gave permission for them to enter the home AFTER the father had been removed and taken to hospice......

 's picture

I read the entire article. It

I read the entire article. It says neighbors saw him at the mailbox sometimes and after he was taken to hospice they complained about the strays. No mention of the circumstances leading up to the man going to hospice. I have not read anything extra into the article.

 's picture

My heart goes out to older

My heart goes out to older folks who are alone and also to the pets they keep. This happens more often than not here in Maine, in the rural pockets of this state, where people are not checked upon.

 's picture

The story does not say the

The story does not say the daughter knew how her father was living. You should not be judging when you do not have all the information. Many children do not live near their senior parents.

Denisa Laflamme's picture

It doesnt say.....

It doesn't say she doesn't know either....and if he is that elderly then maybe she should have been more involved or had a caretaker involved for him....just saying.....You know we have this program called "No child left behind" what about a program for seniors called "No senior forgotten"? If there is family around then they should be checking on their elderly family members and not letting them live like that and if the family does not live close by then make arrangements for someone to check on them.....Seniors have to much pride to ask for assistance, but as their families members need to identify when that is needed before it gets like this.....again just saying......

 's picture

Many children do not live

Many children do not live near their elderly parents. We do not know the whole story here. The daughter could live far away, came to check on him and had him removed then gave permission for animal control to take the strays when she saw the situation. Since that part of the story is not in print, we should not judge (and shouldn't anyway)

Denisa Laflamme's picture

Again I dont care where she lives

Bottom line is this man lived in a nasty disgusting dump and it took time to get that way...she had plenty of time to pull him from this situation and get him help.

 's picture

You don't know if she knew.

You don't know if she knew. And if she did know (and the story doesn't say) it may have taken time to be able to do anything legally.

Denisa Laflamme's picture


Actually it doesn't take that long to have someone removed from conditions like that....especially if they are elderly and ill and this man was and like I said doesn't matter whether she knew or not it was out of control and it should have been addressed either by a family member or they should have had someone checking in on them if they weren't able or capable of doing so themselves....


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