A small house on the east side of Lodi was deemed uninhabitable by law enforcement officials this week after receiving numerous nuisance reports involving debris and animals on the property.
Lodi Police Department detectives, Code Enforcement and Animal Control officers responded to a house on the 300 block of South Central Avenue at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
According to police, the department had received multiple reports of debris, trash and appliances in the home’s front yard, as well as numerous animals living on the property.
Photos posted on the department’s Facebook page reveal bicycles, chairs, a sofa, a wooden cabinet and other pieces of debris strewn about the yard.
Code enforcement also towed two dilapidated vehicles from the residence, police said.
Due to the unsafe living conditions on the property, code enforcement declared the home uninhabitable.
A private contractor assisted officers in boarding up the structure and remove the debris from the yard, police said.
Steven Bellamy, 43, and Natasha Terry, 38, were arrested for outstanding warrants.
Lodi Animal Control seized more than a dozen cats and dogs, which have been temporarily transferred to rescue and foster homes, as well as the Lodi Animal Shelter, animal services said.
Animal Control Officer Jordan Kranich said a total of 17 animals were removed from the property, including nine adult dogs, five puppies, two kittens and one adult cat.
Lodi’s Municipal Code allows for a maximum of five domestic animals on a single property.
“Right now, three of the mom dogs went to foster homes because they’re pregnant and about to give birth,” Kranich said. “The puppies were underage and underweight, so they were sent to rescue homes where they’ll be cared for and returned to health.”
Once the adult females give birth, and once the puppies are healthy, Kranich said they will either be brought back to the Lodi Animal Shelter so animal services can begin the adoption process, or they will be adopted out of the foster and rescue homes.
The three cats were also taken to rescue homes in the area, he said.
The animals will be available for adoption from the Lodi Animal Shelter on Aug. 28.
Kranich said Bellamy were not charged with animal cruelty, Kranich said, because all the animals were in decent shape.
However, he said none of the animals were licensed, and none had been vaccinated.
The couple will have the option to reclaim the dogs, for $178 each in fees, Kranich said, because Animal Services will have to license and vaccinate them.
“We’ve been fighting with them for the past three years or so to get them to vaccinate the animals, obtain licenses, and also reduce the number of animals on the property,” Kranich said.
He said there are still cats roaming the property, but they belong to a resident who lives behind the house. That resident is currently working with animal services to trap the cats and adopt them out through the shelter, Kranich said.
Neighbor Angelica Nunez said on Wednesday that Bellamy and Terry had been living in the home for at least the past seven years.
She said during that time, she and other neighbors witnessed strange and odd things at all hours of the day.
“It was out of control over there,” she said.
Nunez added the couple had two small children living with them, who would be left unattended at times.
While she didn’t know the circumstances of the couple’s situation, she said it was sad and that the neighborhood was happy the property had been cleaned up.
More than 200 people commented on the Lodi Police Department Facebook page, and were grateful officers were finally able to clean the property.
“Thank God, that place was horrible,” Tawney Buckman said. “Live a few houses away and would see people over there all the time. They would all hang out on the church steps at night. There was stuff piled up so high there was only a path to the door a few months ago.”
Cindy Bellamy Bentz commented that the house had originally belonged to her grandfather, who passed away a few years ago. After her grandfather’s passing, she said her mother came into possession of the house but somehow Bellamy was able to take it over.
She said he had been squatting at the house with several other people for years. With code enforcement’s help, Bentz said she was able to reclaim the property.
“I’m so thankful to the Lodi PD, animal control and code enforcement,” she posted. “This took a team effort to make this happen. It took close to seven hours to clean up. Now to make my grandfather’s house great again.”
This was the second time in as many months that Lodi Animal Services removed an excessive amount of animals from a house.
In June, officers responded to a home on the 1500 block of South Fairmont Street and seized more than 40 animals, including chickens, dogs, fish and birds.
Sayed Moshin Shah, 46, was arrested on suspicion of felony animal cruelty, police said.