Brookhaven Town officials condemned a Centereach home Sunday after authorities found 30 cats and dogs living inside the single-family home in “deplorable” conditions, said an official with the Suffolk County SPCA.
The homeowners, Henry Fortis and his wife, Kathy, both 56, were charged with 30 counts of animal cruelty, a misdemeanor punishable up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine, Roy Gross, chief of the animal protection organization, said in an interview Monday.
According to Gross, firefighters responded to an alarm at the couple's house, located on Holbrook Road, but when firefighters arrived there was no fire.
“It appears that the fumes from the house set off their fire alarm,” Gross said.
Inside the ranch-style house, which Gross said was covered with animal feces and urine, authorities found 20 cats and 10 dogs, including beagles and Chihuahuas. Gross said most of the animals were kept in cages.
“The odor was overwhelming,” he said.
The Fortises are barred from living in their home, Gross said, though they are allowed to enter the house to clean it up. Gross said he does not know where the Fortises are living now.
They gave up custody of their cats and dogs, Gross said. The animals were taken to the Town of Brookhaven Animal Shelter in North Bellport for evaluation, and they will eventually be put up for adoption, he said.
The couple could not be reached for comment.
Henry and Kathy Fortis were issued desk appearance tickets and ordered to come to First District Court in Central Islip on Sept. 5 to respond to the charges, Gross said.