KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Authorities are working to remove hundreds of animals found living in deplorable conditions inside a Kansas City duplex.
John Baccala, a spokesman for city's Neighborhoods and Housing Services Department, said 217 rats, 16 rabbits, two guinea pigs, six turtles/tortoises, nine hamsters, three gerbils, three mice and two geckos were found Monday in a duplex in the 4000 block of Wabash Avenue.
The man who lived in the duplex, Mikey Montero, thought of the animals as pets. He says he wasn't really trying to sell them, but even he knew he had too many for his small duplex he was keeping them in.
The smell inside the home was so bad, the Kansas City Fire Department had to test the ammonia levels inside before they could go in. They had to wear masks as they brought out crate after crate filled with animals.
At first glance, officials said the animals did not appear to be neglected, but they said there just shouldn't be that many animals in that small of a space.
Montero said they've lived in the duplex for seven months and that the rats just kept breeding and breeding until it got out of control.
KC Pet Project is working with the city to help find homes for the animals.
“In most cases, when we get a lot of rats like this there are many, many females that are pregnant. We could end up with 300-400 rats by the time we're done,” Tori Fugate with KC Pet Project said.
The health department is shutting down the unit because of the amount of ammonia in the air, it's just not safe to go in. It was so bad, the neighbors on the other side of the duplex could tell something was going on.
“It's been ridiculous. The smell is so bad we don't even eat in our house. We go to my aunties or we go eat out because we can't take the smell,” neighbor Michaela Moore said.
Animal control is letting the owners keep 20, that's the limit, but they gave them a warning when they caught one of them trying to smuggle a few extras out in a backpack.
“We take care of our pets. They're never hungry. I make sure they're okay, psychologically. I interact with them and make sure they're not stressed out. I take care of them because I don't want it to be my fault if they die,” Montero said.
The city hasn't said whether the owners will face any fines, but the owners won't be able to live there again until it's cleaned up.
The city told KCTV5 News they started receiving complaints about this place about six weeks ago, but the first time they came out to check there was no one home.
KC Pet Project has posted a wish list for supplies that they need to help take care of the animals.