Entries in Home (4)


Gators, Snakes, Gila Monster Removed from Wisc. Home

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(KENOSHA, Wisc.) -- Authorities and zoologists in Wisconsin removed a throng of exotic reptiles being housed in an urban residence this week — including a Gila monster, crocodiles and snakes — as shocked neighbors looked on.

Kenosha police responding to a possible animal cruelty complaint Tuesday entered a home, situated just a few blocks from the city’s central police station, to find a 4-foot skeleton of an alligator in a large aquarium, the body of a large burned snake lying in some weeds, a dead 4- to 5-foot alligator, and the carcass of a fawn.

In the basement of the residence officers found a homemade indoor pond and several aquariums of various sizes throughout the residence with live animals. One contained a large Gila monster, and another contained a 4- to 5-foot crocodile, while one housed multiple snakes. The animals were located in containers in the basement of the residence, where two 6- to 8-foot alligators were found in a homemade indoor pond. A “very large” snapping turtle was found in a tub, police said.

Lt. Brad Kemen said that the animals that were found alive were transported out of the residence.

“They’re in the care of the Racine Zoo, and they’re in good condition,” Kemen told ABC News.

Gregory Maser, an associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, said that he was in a meeting with the president of the Racine Zoo when police got in touch about their discovery.

Maser said that he helped remove the animals, including five rattlesnakes, two American alligators, a crocodile, a Gila monster and a large alligator turtle.

“We had to be careful because the Gila monster is venomous, and the rattlesnakes are venomous,” he said. “The crocodiles were pretty small, I grabbed it. The alligators were a bit bigger. We had a few people, noosed them and taped their mouth.”

Maser said that the house hadn’t been lived in for what seemed like quite a while, and that the electricity and utilities were out. He said that he believed that someone had at least been coming back to occasionally care for the animals, and that the owner had done a lot of work on the house to have ponds in the basement for the animals.

There had been a small fire in the house, Maser said. He confirmed that a snake had been burned on the property.

Where the animals care from, and who owns the residence, is still unknown, according to Kemen.

A Kenosha city ordinance bans residents from owning wild animals, or an animal that may endanger life or property. Violators are to be fined no more than $300, plus prosecution costs, according to the ordinance.

“Once we investigate what animals were there, and they’re identified by the zoo, we’ll determine what if any charges will be filed,” Kemen said. Police declined to identify the owner of the home.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Volunteers Work to Provide Wounded Iraq Vet with Custom Home

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MCLEAN, Va.) -- After months of renovations, a wounded Iraq War veteran and his wife are ready to move into their new home, thanks to the efforts of a volunteer project that customizes homes for wounded veterans.

Capt. Patrick Horan was serving in Iraq in 2007 when he was struck by a bullet that penetrated his skull and exploded.  Horan was airlifted from Iraq to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., where doctors removed half his skull, said his wife, Patty Horan.

"He had trouble speaking, but he also had trouble with the motor function of his mouth, just forming the words," she said.

For the past five years, Horan and his wife have moved around the country to get Horan the care he needs.  At last, they have a permanent home of their own, near family members and care givers, in McLean, Va.

"This house symbolizes enjoying life and just starting anew," said Patty Horan.  "We can actually live life again instead of living 10 hours a day in a hospital.  That's what we've been doing for five years."

Funding for the renovations came from a $10 million grant the Sears' Heroes at Home program gave to Rebuilding Together, a national volunteer home rehabilitation organization, specifically for veterans' housing, said Lee-Berkely Shaw, director of development at the Montgomery County, Va., chapter of Rebuilding Together.

Skilled and unskilled volunteers worked together from May until Tuesday morning to help rebuild the Horans' home, Shaw said.

"The family becomes probably the single greatest part of a veterans' recovery," said Tom Aiello, division vice president for Sears' Heroes at Home.  "And Patty is Patrick's lifeline.  She is his care giver, and she is his sense of normalcy."

The Horans had been looking for a home since the summer of 2011.  They were outbid on a house in Bethesda, Md., but found the McLean house in February.  But it had to be redesigned so that Patrick Horan could get around on his own, said project manager John Lowe.

"When you're working on a house, it's really important to know who you're accommodating, and in this case, what their injuries are," he said.

Lowe said that since Patrick Horan had been shot on the left side of his head, the right side of his body was extremely compromised.  The remodeling had to take this into account.

They had to add an elevator, make the master bathroom handicap accessible, lower the counter tops in the kitchen, widen doorways and swap door knobs for levers.

"It cost tens of thousands of dollars just to do the elevator, and then another $20,000 to do the bathroom," said Shaw.

Shaw said Monday was the first time that Patrick Horan had seen the home since the work began so many months ago.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Idaho Family Flees 'Snake House'

Courtesy of Amber Sessions(REXBURG, Idaho) -- Even in this economy, a picture-perfect five bedroom rural home that lists for just over a $100,000 might seem like a real deal.  Except for the fact this home is known by locals in Rexburg, Idaho as the "snake house" because it apparently sits on a nest of non-poisonous garter snakes.

The home has had a fraught history of owners leaving in haste.  Now owned by Chase bank, it was on the market briefly in January and then taken off again.

In September 2009, it seemed like the ideal home for the growing Sessions family.  Ben and Amber Sessions got it for what seemed like a steal, paying less than $180,000.  But soon after moving in, they found snakes slithering inside the residence and all around the property.

"After we moved in, it was really horrible," Amber Sessions told ABC News.  "There were snakes in the walls. We could hear them and then our water tasted like how they smell."

Sessions said they trusted their real estate agent, who, she claimed, told them the snake problem was "made up" by the previous owners so that they could leave their mortgage behind.  He assured them that every precaution was made to keep the snakes away, she said.

But shortly after they moved in, Amber Sessions saw eight snakes in one day.  She texted her agent, she said, and he told her he was going to help them take care of it with traps.

The problem just kept getting worse and three months after they moved in, Amber Sessions, who was pregnant at the time, had enough of what seemed like the serpent house of horrors.  She said she got so scared about coming across a surprise snake in the house that she was worried she would miscarry.

"One day, we caught 43 snakes in total and that was it. The next morning I almost stepped on one in our house and I had enough, we can't do this anymore," she told ABC News. "I don't know how we stayed there as long as we did."

The Sessions family eventually abandoned the home in December 2009, a day after their daughter was born and three months after they moved in.

Real estate experts say the Sessions' story is a hard-learned lesson in the importance of due diligence when searching for your dream home.

"This is a buyer beware nation," New York City broker Brian Lewis told ABC News.  "You have to do your research because if you don't do your research, you end up with a house full of snakes."´╗┐

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Family Loses Home to Foreclosure, Neighbors Bring Them In

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(PHOENIX) -- After Michael Toczko lost his job in June as a stock broker near Phoenix, he and his family watched their home fall into foreclosure. Toczko and his wife, Kristin Hailstone, swallowed their pride and knocked on their neighbors' doors to tell them the news.

"We went to everyone and apologized for hurting their home values. We wanted them to know that we'd done the best that we could, truly, and everyone was just so gracious and all they cared about was keeping our family safe," Hailstone said.

One family did more than keep the Toczkos safe. Liz and Joe Larger, a few doors down, took them in.

"Losing a house is a big thing, but it's just stuff. It's not important...We're together, we're a family and we're enjoying each other and that's what's really important," Joe Larger said.

Today, the Toczkos pitch in with what rent they can afford and together, the two families are a kind of experiment in generosity. The Toczkos' and the Largers' decision to consolidate their family homes is becoming less and less unusual. In the cul-de-sac where they live, three of the five homes have two families per address.

Phoenix is a hotspot for foreclosures. According to RealtyTrac, in the third quarter of this year, one out of every 69 homes in the area went up for auction.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio´╗┐

ABC News Radio