Officials: Cats seized from 'worst hoarder home,' homeowner arrested

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GARDEN CITY -

Dozens of cats were seized from a house in Garden City Monday, in what officials are calling one of the worst hoarder homes they've ever seen.

Nassau SPCA Detective Gary Rogers says investigators found 25 to 30 cats inside the Garden Street home in deplorable conditions. Crews were forced to wear hazmat suits and rely on oxygen tanks, and officials say the ammonia levels in the home were three times what is considered safe for human exposure.

"The house is covered in feces and urine," Rogers says. "We needed to have the house ventilated by the fire department due to the high ammonia levels. The original team had to come out because the air was so bad."

The Nassau District Attorney's Animal Crimes Unit executed a search warrant at the home, and the homeowner, Thane Matthews, was arrested on animal cruelty charges.

Neighbors were not surprised.

"There were just cats everywhere, they'd be in the windows, in the front porch, on the roof," says Beth Pughe, who adds that Matthews' property smelled of ammonia and death. "What we don't understand is how was he living in there, if the ammonia level was so high? If they had to go in there with hazmat suits, how did he live in there?"

The Hempstead Town Animal Control unit set traps in and around the home, as officials believe that more cats may still be in the area.

The home was condemned.

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