'Animal house' in Reading labeled blighted property

'Animal house' in Reading labeled blighted property

READING, Pa. - A Reading home nicknamed the "Animal House" was declared a blighted property.

Neighbors and code inspectors said the owner is not caring for the home.

Code violation after code violation hung on the Victorian home's front door. Mary Lou Petrucci is the owner of the Mineral Spring home. Thursday night her neighbors on the 1500 block described what it's like to live nearby.

"What really irritates the neighbors is that smell," said Linda Kelleher.
Kelleher is the Secretary of Reading's blighted property review committee, and the smell she is referring to is cat urine.

"I've seen the cops down there several times," said neighbor Michael Otey, "I've seen them in the backyard in the front yard. I've seen them on your program once or twice with a thousand cats or whatever they had inside."

Otey was not at the hearing, but is referring to is how animal control visited Petrucci's home and brought out dozens of animals on two different occasions. And she is also accused of kidnapping a 72-year-old man and keeping him locked up in her basement.

But the city's hearing focused on the condition of the property.

"When codes was in the first time there was a lot of animal waste on the floor. That's been cleaned up," said Kelleher, "There's some small sign of improvement."

But not enough to keep it off the blighted property list. The city has 140 homes on that list.

"It's eligible for acquisition," said Kelleher, "We're waiting until we find another property owner and then we'll start some type of acquistion method."
But neighbors hope it was a victory for them.

"They haven't taken care of it since they got it," said Otey, "I'm not surprised that that's happening. I'm not sure what that actually means if the city is going to take care of it be in better condition hopefully."

Petrucci did not go to the hearing and she did not answer her door when we knocked.

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