Authorities found dogs wearing diapers in cages caked with feces when they searched a motor home in the driveway of a Crescent City residence Friday.
The afternoon search came after several formal and informal public nuisance complaints were lodged regarding the residence at 344 N. Pebble Beach Drive, authorities said.
The outside of the motor home was in good condition, but the inside was squalid.
Rats ran through the heaps of trash, feces covered the floor, flies buzzed around a bucketful of rotten apples and a soiled mattress faced a flat screen TV. A stale stench of waste was trapped in the motor home from the lack of circulation.
It was the home of 11 terriers that were hauled to the dog pound until the case against the property owner, Susan White, is resolved. She was arrested on suspicion of 11 counts of animal cruelty around 1:45 p.m., shortly after the inspection warrant was executed. White's daughter is also likely to be arrested on suspicion of animal cruelty, authorities said.
"Animal control worked with the District Attorney's Office in procuring an inspection warrant to check on the condition of the animals," said sheriff's Commander Tim Athey. "We didn't know what we would find."
After speaking with an acquaintance of White's, it is suspected she may have been living in the mess as well, said Athey.
White was legally barred from living in the motor home following an abatement hearing earlier this year after she told the county hearing officer her house was uninhabitable, said county Code Enforcement Officer Dave Mason.
She had indicated she would keep the motor home on the property, but stay in motels before a supposedly planned move out of the county, Mason said.
Around 5 p.m. Friday, another warrant was executed to search the house, adjacent garage and shop, which appeared to have been inhabited recently, Athey said, adding that Mason will be taking measures to condemn the property after deeming it unlivable.
There were boxes upon boxes of belongings found in the house, and boxes also filled the garage and shop to capacity, Athey said.
White inherited the house several years ago, and she later took out a loan against the house and then the motor home showed up on the property, Mason said. The house is now in foreclosure, he added.
He has dealt with trying to force White to clean up her outside property five times in the last seven years, he said.
On one occasion, he said he saw her throwing trash from a second-story window onto a roof below that jutted from her house, and another neighbor complained she had thrown dog feces on a separate occasion onto the same roof, Mason said.
"We try really hard not to (remove) people from their homes if we can avoid it," said Mason. "But if it gets to a certain point we have to act."
Neighbors of White's who spoke on condition of anonymity said they always heard dogs barking, but were unable to find where the noise was coming from.
They said after numerous verbal complaints they had filed a formal complaint against White regarding trash dumped outside with the county last June and contacted several county officials who they felt kept passing the buck.
"The blight is horrible," said a neighbor. "It's always been horrible."
Staff writer Adam Spencer contributed to this report.
Reach Anthony Skeens at firstname.lastname@example.org.