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Landlord left to clean up filthy home abandoned by family

ELKHART, Ind. -

A landlord is left to clean up a disaster after a family of five that was living in filth for months abandoned their home.

An Elkhart house on Park Avenue looks like any other home from the outside, but when you walk in, you’ll stumble upon a complete mess.

There’s an honor roll certificate just left on top of a cage that housed two dead rats and animal feces sitting right next to a young girl’s My Little Pony toy.

“You know and this is the stuff that breaks my heart,” said landlord Dan Brouillette.

Last week, Brouillette discovered his tenants had taken off and left him with a disgusting disaster.

“Very, very difficult to find that fine line between helping people and being profitable,” said Brouillette.

Dan tried to help this family back in May.

“I had a couple that came in last May looking for a place. They were living in a place on Okema Street here in town. They said they were walking away from the house…probably the worst house I’d ever seen, and the city had condemned it….There was a little girl that came up to me…and she looked up at me and she said she was cold and that she needed a new place to live, and I have a young girl the same age, and I just gave in,” he said.

He moved the family of five into this place on Park Avenue in Elkhart, telling them to pay what they could.

“I thought just maybe if we gave them a fresh start with something more sanitary, then maybe they could use that as a springboard to get things back in place, and clearly that didn’t happen,” said Dan.

“To me, this is what’s truly heartbreaking. This is clearly a little girl’s blanket, and you have dog feces all over it,” he said.

The worst part, he says, is the stench—a mixture of dog feces and urine and the filth left to rot for months.

“I’m more frustrated at the fact that CPS has been here a few times,” said Brouillette.

The Department of Child Services says they cannot confirm whether or not they did pay those visits for privacy reasons.

The cleanup is nothing compared to what these kids had to live through,” said Dan.

Those dead rats could be the landlord’s only hope for criminal justice.

“The real travesty is all the police can do is look at any possible animal charges. All of this is civil stuff, and it’s all money I’ll never collect,” he said.

This story still has a silver lining: the three kids’ mother agreed to give temporary custody to their aunt Thursday.

“It’s not about what happened to this house. It’s about what happened to the children, so the outcome of this has been remarkable,” said Dan.

While everything they own may be strewn across the floor, these three kids are free from the filth, for now.

If you would like to help out their aunt, you can donate here.

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