NIAGARA FALLS — Following up on neighbors' complaints of foul smells and barking dogs, police recently raided the 70th Street home where two Rottweilers mauled a 7-year-old boy on June 7. The house was later condemned by city inspectors who said the building and yard were overrun with animal waste, creating unsanitary living conditions.
The owner of the property, Keri Ann Sweatman, 44, was cited for having three unlicensed dogs on the premises, and for exceeding the number of animals allowed on a city property. Police said that Sweatman signed over custody of the three dogs to the Niagara County SPCA. Six cats also were removed from the home at 228 70th St.
Child Protective Services also was called after a 4-year-old girl was found sleeping in a first-floor bedroom, surrounded by piles of cat feces on the floor. Police filed a child abuse report because of the unsanitary conditions. Records did not indicate the child's relationship to Sweatman.
The house first drew police attention on June 7 when 7-year-old Kaeden Mitchell was attacked by two Rottweilers in its backyard. The boy was savagely bitten about the head, face and neck, sustaining injuries that required 250 stitches and an additional 250 staples to close. Kaeden also suffered spinal cord injuries in the attack and was put into a medically induced coma for seven days to allow swelling in his brain to subside. He has since undergone multiple surgeries and may have suffered a stroke while hospitalized in the aftermath of the attack.
The boy has since been released from the hospital and is making a gradual recovery. Sweatman, who was identified as Kaeden's aunt, was not charged in connection with the incident, but she did surrender the two dogs to the SPCA to be euthanized the day after the attack.
Officer David Bower said that he was called back to the home on June 20, when neighbors complained of barking dogs there. He said that he spoke to some neighbors who said that they were unable to use their own backyards due to the overwhelming stench coming from the property. He saw a pair of adult male German shepherds and an adult female Rottweiler in the backyard of the home, and confirmed with the City Clerk's Office that no dog license had been issued for the address.
A search warrant was issued to remove the unlicensed animals. Bower said that when he went in the house on July 25, he noticed a strong smell of feces and urine, and saw several piles of dog waste on the first and second floors of the home before finding the child sleeping in a bedroom.
"The odor (of urine and feces) was extremely strong in the basement,'' Bower wrote in his report, but access to the basement was impossible due to the amount of animal waste concentrated there.
The backyard had large amounts of dog waste, a broken trampoline and a pool filled with a foot of "very dirty" water. Joe Chick from the city inspector's office was called to the scene and condemned the property, according to police reports.
Sweatman, who according to police records is employed as an aide at Ransomville Manor, was issued appearance tickets to answer the charges against her in City Court.