Woman charged after her 96-year-old father is found living in filthy house infested with upto 700 rats

Catherine Ann Vandermaesen, 65, was arrested on suspicion of felony elder abuse and misdemeanor animal neglect after police found her father living in filthy conditions


                            Woman charged after her 96-year-old father is found living in filthy house infested with upto 700 rats

Law enforcement arrested a Southern California woman after discovering her 96-year-old father living in a contaminated house infested with over 700 rats.

Catherine Ann Vandermaesen, 65, was arrested on suspicion of felony elder abuse and animal neglect, according to a press release from the Ventura County Sheriff's Department, People reports.

Catherine Ann Vandermaesen, 65, was arrested on suspicion of felony elder abuse and animal neglect. (Ventura County Sheriff's Office)
Catherine Ann Vandermaesen, 65, was arrested on suspicion of felony elder abuse and animal neglect. (Ventura County Sheriff's Office)

The Ventura County Adult Protective Services (APS) summoned authorities on March 13, who said Vandermaesen was initially “suspected of not properly caring for her 74-year old sister,” per the news release. However, deputies realized the problem ran deeper than previously suspected after having a conversation with the two sisters.

“Once the deputies made contact with Vandermaesen and her sister, they did not want deputies to enter the residence, and insisted all occupants at the location were fine,” the statement continues. “When the deputies requested to see their 96-year-old father, both daughters said they would bring him out in a wheelchair, but refused to allow deputies access into their residence.”

A sheriff's task force returned the following day after authorities suspected the home's living conditions were inexcusable. (Ventura County Sheriff's Office)
A sheriff's task force returned the following day after authorities suspected the home's living conditions were inexcusable. (Ventura County Sheriff's Office)

A sheriff's task force returned the following day after authorities suspected the home's living conditions were inexcusable.

“As deputies responded to the residence, the ammonia smell associated with urine was detected 20 feet from the residence,” the statement reads. “Once the task force had assessed the overall situation, they learned that Vandermaesen had allowed her elderly father to reside in conditions not fit for human living and willfully caused or permitted the health of her elderly father to suffer under the specific living conditions noted on scene.”

Animal Control estimated that "200 to 700 wild rats were still loose and residing within the two bedrooms dwelling, walls, garage and garbage located throughout the residence." (Ventura County Sheriff's Office)
Animal Control estimated that "200 to 700 wild rats were still loose and residing within the two bedrooms dwelling, walls, garage and garbage located throughout the residence." (Ventura County Sheriff's Office)

Rescuers had to remove eight dogs, a cat, a parrot, two rabbits, and 55 pet rats from the home, with Animal Control estimating “another 200 to 700 wild rats were still loose and residing within the two bedrooms dwelling, walls, garage and garbage located throughout the residence.”

Vandermaesen's elderly father and her 74-year-old sister, a "possible victim", were rushed to a nearby hospital via ambulance. While Vandermaesen has been released on bond after being arrested on suspicion of felony elder abuse and misdemeanor animal neglect, she is now set to appear in court on April 2.

That said, both the father and sister have been taken under the care of Ventura County Adult Protection Services, who helped them secure a temporary housing arrangement.