Abandoned dogs sent to local animal rescue
Several abandoned dogs in an east Hamilton home have been surrendered to an animal rescue weeks after their owners were evicted from the property and left them behind.
The Highland Avenue home where the dogs were left has been a point of contention for the Crown Point East neighbourhood. Nearby residents reached out to The Spectator earlier this month to express their concern about the animals’ well-being.
Property owner and landlord Karina Loayza said six dogs were removed from the home on Oct. 15 and surrendered by the former tenants to a local rescue, No Dog Left Behind. However, Loayza said it took more than two weeks to get any action on the situation, despite repeated calls to the local SPCA, Hamilton Animal Services and Provincial Animal Welfare (PAWS).
“It was very upsetting,” said Loayza’s husband Bryan Ortiz. “We have all of these agencies, but none of them were willing to do anything for the dogs.”
Loayza said the saga of the abandoned dogs began at the beginning of October, just after the tenants were evicted from the home after not paying rent for several months.
When Loayza and Ortiz arrived at the home on Oct. 2 to ensure everything was moved out, they discovered six dogs and a number of cats had been left behind in the home by the tenants.
The pair contacted the tenants about the animals, but were told they “couldn’t take them and they were just going to leave them there,” said Loayza.
Just days later, a reporter at The Spectator was notified about the situation by a concerned neighbour, who did not want to be named due to safety concerns.
A reporter visited the house earlier this month and found the front yard of the property littered with garbage, and two empty pet food bowls. Through the backyard fence, animal feces could be seen on the deck.
At least one dog could be heard barking inside as it poked its head through the window coverings. A couple of cats could be seen sitting on top of the roof.
The neighbour told The Spectator that she, too, had called animal services and 911 for assistance with the situation to no avail. Another neighbour said she had also called provincial animal welfare.
“I haven’t seen anyone come by the house,” said the neighbour who initially reached out to the newspaper. “I’m concerned for the animals’ well-being.”
At that time, city spokesperson Michelle Shantz told The Spectator that animal control officers “do not have authority to remove a person’s property — which includes pets — without the owner’s consent.”
The Hamilton-Burlington SPCA also told The Spectator that they “no longer (have) animal protection officers that would attend to such a call.”
Both organizations pointed to PAWS — which falls under the ministry of the solicitor general — as the body that deals with cases of alleged animal abuse in the province.
Brent Ross, a spokesperson for the ministry, told The Spectator on Oct. 6 that officers had been to the home on “multiple occasions” to conduct inspections and found that the animals were in “good body condition and were being cared for.”
Loayza said despite the tenants claiming the dogs were being fed everyday, the condition the home was left in tells another story of how the pets were treated.
“I don’t think anybody was prepared to smell what that house smelt like,” she said, noting the dogs likely hadn’t been let out of the home since they were abandoned. “The basement floor was covered in feces.”
And with the dogs finally out of the home and safe with a rescue, Ortiz and Loayza are looking at a long and costly process to get the house back in shape for their family to move in.
“Every possible surface inside of this house has been destroyed,” said Loayza. “The floors, the walls, all of the appliances.”
The home is also infested with cockroaches and bedbugs, Loayza noted. Ortiz estimates the couple will have to put upwards of $100,000 worth of renovations and maintenance into the home.
That’s on top of the more than $40,000 in unpaid rent and utilities they were owed by the tenants, who moved in back in March 2020 and stopped paying their bills just months later, Loayza noted.
Those unpaid bills resulted in a jump in their mortgage payment and a lien to be put out on the house. Ortiz, who works in construction, said he had to take up extra shifts to keep up with the payments.
“It’s been really hard,” said Loayza. “It’s going to take a long time and a lot of manpower to get it back to being livable.”