Aurora Gets Court Order To Clean Up Bird Hoarder’s House
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UPDATE: 10/24/2012 – 6:22 p.m.
AURORA (CBS) — A Kane County judge has authorized the city of Aurora to enter a enter the home of a hoarder who has about 300 birds flying inside his house, after he earlier blocked crews from cleaning up the mess inside.
Aurora city officials said Wednesday evening that they had obtained a court order authorizing the city to rescue any birds inside David Skeberdis’ home at 247 Shadybrook Lane, after the house was deemed unfit for habitation, because of mold counts up to 15 times higher than normal outdoor readings.
The city will get help from the Greater Chicago Cage Bird Club, as well and other professional animal rescuers in taking the birds out of Skeberdis’ house. Officials plan to begin the rescue work at 10 a.m. Friday, unless all the birds have been removed by then.
Aurora Deputy Fire Chief John Lehman said homeowner Skeberdis had changed his mind about allowing private contractors into the house to begin cleanup that would allow for the safe removal of hundreds of birds.
CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reports Skeberdis has admitted he’s a hoarder, but said he had everything in his home organized until Aurora officials came through the home.
“People that have as much stuff as I have have what I call a key, or it’s like a puzzle. You can walk through your house, because you know what to move, and stuff like that,” Skeberdis said. “When they got into the house, basically everything fell over, and they walked all over it. So I’ve got things that are broken. I’ve got more of a mess than there was actually in there in the beginning.”
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Skeberdis said he revoked his consent to have the city of Aurora clear a path inside the house to allow them to remove about 300 birds, because he’s not willing to pay the nearly $14,000 the city said it would cost to do so.
He said, if it would cost that much just to clear a safe path to get the birds out, he thinks it would cost up to $60,000 to have professional cleaners get the house up to code.
He said he believes he can clean up the house himself within the 14 days required by the city before it would have the authority to step in and do the work itself.
“What I’m going to do is give it the good old college try. If I can get the environment cleaned enough, and get it tested, I can probably have other people help me,” he said. “If I can get those air cleaners running, and if I can get this cleaned up, you know, I’d like to do it. … I’ve got civil rights too, and I don’t need to have somebody trying to strong-arm me into getting somebody else to clean it.”
But Aurora city officials said the home is not livable, and it would not be safe for anyone to go inside without proper safety gear.
“He does not have the proper equipment to be able to operate safely in that environment, and he’s putting himself at risk, or any other people at risk that would enter that place without having the proper equipment, due to the high levels of mold,” Lehman said.
So, the city went to court to try to force the issue.
Aurora officials have said all walkable surfaces in the home at 247 Shadybrook Lane are covered in garbage, bird feed, and bird droppings. Skeberdis has been issued two citations for property maintenance code violations, and four violations of Aurora’s animal care and control ordinance.
Before crews can begin to remove up to 300 birds from the home, paths have to be made. That could take a day or two.
According to Lehman, none of the birds are in cages. About 200 of them are living in the basement; 100 are living on the first and second floors.
Skeberdis said he started out with eight conures, about four years ago. They multiplied to about 100. He also started taking in other birds.
“They’re like five year-old children. They’re more like puppies or kittens, in the fact that, I mean, that’s the way they play. I’ve got a couple of them that like to sleep on my neck during the night.”
The Greater Chicago Cage Bird Club has been helping Skeberdis. They’ve brought him cages and offered to find a new home for his beloved birds.
“It’s a sad situation. We’re very, very sorry that David got to this point, and we’ll just do everything we can to help him,” said Diana Federl, the club’s treasurer.
As for Skeberdis’ possible mental health needs, Lehman said, “The DuPage County Health Department has worked with the city of Aurora, and I believe that they have reached out to him personally, to offer their services of behavioral health.”
Aurora officials said any clean-up and recovery costs can be passed on to Skeberdis.