Nightmare on Earp Street

A PSPCA raid two weeks ago uncovered more than just dogs. To capture the real story of 739 Earp St., we have to go back in time almost a decade. At its center, we find a story of systemic failure, feces and neighborhood feuds.

By Tara Murtha
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 45 | Posted Jul. 27, 2010

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Photo by Nina Sachdev

It’s about 5 p.m. and the front door to 739 Earp Street is propped open by milk crates. Dogs are barking and crying somewhere in in the dark, fetid house. Officers from the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, some in protective Tyvek suits and gas masks, move swiftly in and out of the building. Upon exiting, each officer instinctively leans over, hands on knees, and tries to hock up the deep, pungent odor of dog feces mixed with urine out of their throats.

“I think we’re up to 22,” announces one PSPCA officer, referring to the number of Chihuahuas already retrieved from the house.

Onlookers bundle in groups on the narrow South Philly street and sidewalk, staring in dismay, whispering and updating each other on the tally as each dog is removed. “We knew it was bad, we just didn’t think it was that bad,” says one neighbor.

Even the PPD, witness to all things gruesome, seems taken aback by the unfolding horror show. “It frustrates us,” says Officer Christine Rocks, who is guarding the scene with partner Thomas Kolenskiewicz. “I have three rescue pit bulls at home, so if I could take all of them, I would.”

The house, owned by Frank and Antoinette Rotonta, is occupied by Rich and Frances Rotonta. Frances sits teary-eyed with her husband and a handful of friends on a stoop across the street, watching as her trembling dogs exit the only home they’ve ever known. The PSPCA officers photograph each dog and gingerly place them into the red animal ambulance waiting on the curb. At this point, Rotonta has already signed forms to voluntarily surrender the dogs.

It’s hard for the officers to catch the dogs because they’re running loose through all three floors of the house. To speed things along—all in all, the raid took about eight hours—PSPCA officer Betty Sorrel asks Rotonta for her assistance rounding up the rest of the animals. “It just makes it easier and quicker; the dogs will go to Fran,” she says. After a short while, Sorrel comes out, tells the group of friends that Rotonta needs a rest, and asks them to get her a blanket.

News cameras on the scene film PSPCA Director of Law Enforcement George Bengal describing the two to three feet of feces that reportedly cover all the floors and junk in the house. He calls it the worst case of animal hoarding he’s ever seen. “It’s deplorable,” he says. “Feces everywhere, the ammonia is extremely high in the house, there’s no outside ventilation. It’s uninhabitable for humans.”

A worker from the Department of Licenses & Inspections takes a quick tour of the house and condemns it.

About 6:30 p.m., the first animal ambulance, packed full with 30 dogs, peels out to deliver the animals to PSPCA headquarters on Erie Avenue in North Philly. A plastic box filled with 10 tiny, wriggling puppies remains on the stoop. Puppy cries and barks continue to come from the house. By the time the PSPCA wraps up the raid just before midnight on July 14, 85 dogs, two cats and the remains of two dogs have been removed from the Rotontas’ house.

To capture the real story of 739 Earp Street, we have to go back in time almost a decade. At its center, it’s a story of systemic failure. After all, residents who lived under the foul cloud of the Stink—a horrible stench that radiated from the house for years—and within earshot of what sounded like “a gazillion puppies” had tried to get the city to do something about the house for years and years. Some residents fled, moved out of the ’hood altogether. Some who remained are considering it now, disheartened by the city's inefficiency.

Fear defines a lot of this story. Cresting on a wave of gentrification that rapidly juxtaposed second- and third-generation South Philly residents with newcomers in the last decade, residents of Passyunk Square say they were scared to speak out about the Stink and about what they see as a “culture gap” or the “inherent tension” between some residents on the blocks.

PW spoke with newcomers—all sources requested to remain anonymous—who believe old-school residents use physical intimidation to send the message that they better not try to shake things up for old-timers. They say efforts to battle the Stink are misinterpreted as personal attacks on the Rotontas or, for that matter, old-school residents in general. Now, many say they’re frightened of retaliation for the raid, though ironically, all evidence points to the probability that it wasn’t even complaints filed with the city’s beauracracy that finally made something happen.

Meanwhile, Fran Rotonta says that she believes she is the target of a harassment campaign. “So yeah I had the dogs,” she admits, but “they blew it out of proportion, believe me.” But her story is a far cry from what she told PW when first contacted the day before the raid. At the time, Rotonta was adamant that she owned just four dogs and two cats. “And I make the cats go in the kitty litter,” she added.

“It’s bullshit,” she said. “I can’t take it anymore.”

But the complaints were not about the dogs, because no one knew how many were inside the house. They were about the Stink—which by all accounts was impossible to blow out of proportion.

“If you opened your mouth you could taste it, like your face was shoved into a litter box,” said one neighbor who reluctantly kept his air conditioner on in an unsuccessful effort to block the odor from invading his home.

“I almost puked the other day just taking out my recycling,” he says.

Neighbors say the Stink was bad as far back as they remember, but it became “exponentially” worse in the last two years.

“Last summer was what kicked a lot of people into action, when Fran put some kind of exhaust in the bottom back window that would just constantly spew out the horrible stench,” a resident says.

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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 45 of 45
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1. Terri, a transplant to SP said... on Jul 27, 2010 at 09:44PM

“WHOA!! People need to refocus on the REAL issue here. . . umm, what was the issue here again? How the city's agencies failed - yet again? That these agencies "passed the buck"? Another alleged disreputable Council member from South Philadelphia? Mental Health issues? Hoarding issues? An overloaded, underfunded PSPCA? Gentrification? That South Philly is supposedly full of inbred OGs? I guess you can take your pick. It's all an absolute shame and embarrassment. So get it cleaned up. This did not need to happen.

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2. Anonymous said... on Jul 27, 2010 at 10:43PM

“Hey Bill Smith...maybe you need some less scary grass, since that's all you can say about any dog you see..."It was afraid to walk on the grass".

When you get extremists like Smith and Main Line involved, you lose credibility in the eyes of canine professionals. Smith is a kook.”

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3. Anonymous said... on Jul 27, 2010 at 11:47PM

“DiCicco let the neighborhood down. He should be voted out.”

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4. No More said... on Jul 27, 2010 at 11:53PM

“Maybe Bill's grass is so scary because the dogs aren't used to a very large man bearing down on them in a golf cart to play. If I'm not on the golf course it would freak me out also.
The only time I've had the pleasure of seeing him was on an animal planet cops special that has helped me give up animal planet programming for good as animal activist garbage.

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5. Tisha said... on Jul 27, 2010 at 11:56PM

“Those people are freaks! They should sit in a room full of their own shit and piss. I hope they get jail time and their house confiscated.
FIRST RULE OF NEIGHBORLINESS: Don't be a freaking sicko STINKO. Treat your neighbors right, and your pets right too! I don't care how long some of these families lived on that street. That does not give them the right to be trashy. Have they no self-respect??? You know what living on a block a long time entitles you to do? To sweep your sidewalk. To plant a flower now and then. To say hello to someone new who moves in down the street. To be a good neighbor! That's what the "old heads" should be doing.

Nutter's administration is getting to be a bit of a joke. If he can't make city offices work right then heads should role. L&I needs some Higher-Ups FIRED for this oversight. Let someone younger and with more energy and passion do the job if the old fogies won't do it.”

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6. BearScare said... on Jul 28, 2010 at 12:04AM

“The neighbors who put up with this so long were total pussies. Have they never heard of the idea of organizing? Was there no neighborhood watch association? Look, if you gentrify a neighborhood you build a coalition, an association of people to watch each other's backs. You have a rally or someshit and get people out in force to let the people on the block know THIS AIN'T COOL. But no. The neighbors were kind of lazy. About time they did something, and I am glad they did, if they did anything at all.”

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7. Not So Nutso said... on Jul 28, 2010 at 12:19AM

“@Anonymous The only kook here is that woman &anyone else who lived in the house. A kook is someone who keeps 80 dogs and doesn't use a kennel. She should never be allowed to keep another pet again. She abused the privilege. Going to debtor's prison or something like it would be just. I hope they make her pay that huge ass fine. Hoard beanie babies, not flesh and blood creatures. Those poor dogs will never be right. She was running a mill. Had to be with so many of the same breed. Message to FRAN: you want to be the matriarch of the street? Then act like one. Show neighbors respect by keeping your house nice. Volunteer at a local animal shelter if you must, but do not bring another pet into your home. You proved that you do not have the good common sense to do so responsibly. I know you must love pets, but what you have done to your dogs is not love, it is SICK. Get some help. Get it now. And then apologize for putting those animals and those neighbors through something so unneeded.”

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8. no more said... on Jul 28, 2010 at 12:26AM

“I've been told that "one mans trash is another mans treasure". Are you the person that calls the government to have the "Old Fart" committed or jailed for the good of the hood or do you help weed the yard and plant flowers for an older member of the human race that is struggling. Granted she may not even let you help (out of fear or pride). You live in the city and are offended that the outside air smells like feces, I live in the country and expect to gag when I go outside or open the window as the corn fields are fertilized with animal and human sludge to feed us and our cars. Caring for other animals is very important, but when will we understand that caring for each other means more if we hope to survive?”

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9. Earp Street said... on Jul 28, 2010 at 07:51AM

“I lived on this block of Earp Street in 2007... I remember how bad this house smelled just walking past it. Luckily I left this block before the exhaust fan was added. The thing I remember most about this house was how much worse it smelled when it rained. The entire block was flooded with the smell of animal piss and shit, it was awful. I had no idea there was 85 dogs living in this house. I kind of though they maybe had a lot of stray cats in their back yard and thats why it smelled so badly when it rained. I hope the dogs get a better life then living with these crazy people.”

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10. I Hate South Philly Old Timers said... on Jul 28, 2010 at 07:54AM

“These South Philly old-timers are clueless bullies. I'm starting to hate living among them; they contribute nothing and then pull stuff like this when people in the area attempt to make things better. This woman clearly was causing problems on this block (and the fact that she worked at the South Philly SuperFresh in the MEAT DEPARTMENT is even more disturbing) and deserved everything she's getting and then some.”

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11. Anonymous said... on Jul 28, 2010 at 08:32AM

“Why didn't the article mention that Fran worked in the meat cutting room at the Delaware Ave SuperFresh? Yup, cutting your steaks by day, sleeping in 3 feet of feces by night.”

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12. me said... on Jul 28, 2010 at 08:42AM

“BearScare "The neighbors were kind of lazy. About time they did something, and I am glad they did, if they did anything at all.”
Are you kidding me?! Trying to deal with this situation became a part time job for some neighbors, and many others also worked very hard for years to get something done.”

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13. Anonymous said... on Jul 28, 2010 at 09:16AM

“HA! FINALLY! Someone finally prints the BS that goes on everyday in SF coming from an OG that just thinks they own the neighborhood. From Councilman's DiCicco's office to the cops to L&I and to Mrs. Rotonta and her "supporters"; everyone in SF thinks they can get away with this kind of attitude without consequences. Well, guess what OG: times are a-changing. Justice applies to everyone and if you break the law by keeping 85 dogs in an unsafe and unhygienic environment, you pay the fine. If you harass someone just because they complain about your lack of garbage courtesy (ie: you litter) then you can be charged in court and you pay up. Philadelphia will be a much better city once the OG is re-educated (or re-located to Arizona or Utah) and it's lazy-ass councilmembers are voted out and its corrupt institutions are headed by proactive leaders who care about their city. Goodbye corrupt OGs. Hello future!”

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14. Anonymous said... on Jul 28, 2010 at 10:24AM

“Seven pages of this drivel, and stink is not capitalized no matter how you use it unless it is the beginning of the sentence. Seven pages about a person wiht too many dogs. Jay Cee Dugard did not get that much coverage. Note tha the dogs were "running all over". If they had been in kennels people would have complained .. They were kept in small cages.. you cannot please any animal activist.. and yes.. Bill Smith uses the same wording for ALL of his so called 'rescues". How else could he round up all of the donations? Scary grass? I have seen dogs raised on grass who are afraid of concrete.. or wood floors.. or carpet.. they get used to it.. big deal”

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15. pete said... on Jul 28, 2010 at 11:28AM

“The DSM does not have to be amended with yet another
mental health disorder. This lady is perhaps suffering
from OCD, depression, schizoaffective disorder., and
a bit of narcissistic personality disorder. This is another
reason that Philly needs a temporary period of martial
law. This city will just deteriorate to the point where no
one in their right mind will want to live here because trash
of all races will foul the environment with ignorance and
cyclic poverty. Civil rights are a privilege to be earned
by moral conduct and should not be assumed. This woman
apparently gave up her right to privacy by disturbing
the peace of her neighbors in many ways., not to mention
offending the sanctity of nature by abusing several
members of the animal kingdom. Her mental illness is
deep and needs airing through professional help. I should
know as I am a diagnosed schizophrenic who needs help
to understand how his mind misinterprets reality.”

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16. Anonymous said... on Jul 28, 2010 at 01:45PM

“It's great these (animals) abusers were finally busted. The woman quoted here, @leilathegoodrat on twitter is just as abusive to real people on the internet. Also to people there. Even bragged about a gun she pulled at a fight from the stadium there. She likes to street fight and brag about it. Hipocrysy should be included in this web page”

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17. SS said... on Jul 28, 2010 at 01:57PM

“had the same experience living on the 1600 block of 5th st. (feral cats living in the ally..colony being maintained by neighbor). was able to rescue and adopt out one kitten in the 3 months i lived there. landlord would not do anything about it although cats are vermin and a violation of the health code. phone call to health dept was not returned. pscpa would come out and pick up the cats if i trapped them but they were going to put them to sleep. now living in s. philly condo. much better! no feral cats and the building has a dog park for the renters who chose to have dogs. very cute. now let's find away to make livable apartment communities more affordable because the row home thing is skeevy...i never thought i would say anything like that...”

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18. Leila said... on Jul 28, 2010 at 02:01PM

“Thank you for bringing attention to this story. I just wanted to say to the commenters that not all of us "OG's" are whack-jobs like some of these people on Earp St. I have no idea what those people are smoking that would have them siding with the Rotonta's and their house of horrors, but please know not all of us feel that way. Anyone who thinks it's ok for a neighbor to wallow in feces and contribute to the suffering of animals needs their South Philly pass revoked. Fran's buddies seem just as crazy and delusional as she is; if they actually cared about this woman they would be happy that she was saved from a situation that could not be beneficial to her physical or mental health. They should be pushing for her to get help instead of fighting with neighbors who have every right to want to live on a street that doesn't stink like shit and dead animals. I hope the (sane) neighbors on Earp St. can come together and take a stand against this bullying trash.”

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19. anonymous said... on Jul 28, 2010 at 02:06PM

“Just need to throw in my opinion here: I am appalled at the number of commenters who are defending Rotonta for having 85 dogs in her house. Are you kidding me? No one should have 85 dogs. Please, people, see this situation for what it is. Rotonta clearly has a problem, and serving as her "enablers" will only keep her sick.”

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20. KNJ said... on Jul 28, 2010 at 04:03PM

“Having 85 dogs in a row home means this couple were hoarders. Its a disease. Look it up in the dictionary. Dr. Patronek has spent years researching animal hoarders, google his name. Phila has a law -- 12 pets per residence (even that is too much in the city!) so how she got away with this many pets is beyond me - obviously she "knew" people somewhere in politics! Too bad everyone was too fearful of retaliation to pursue this because so many of those poor dogs suffered horribly living that way. Humans that hoard need to be stopped, not ignored or enabled. Animals have no one to speak out for them BUT people -- so speak out. I wouldn't care what kind of neighborhood it was -- if I had known, I'd have ended it somehow. My thanks go to the person that made the anonymous call that finally got the police at the door here. That's the true hero in all this. Its not a vendetta -- its about saving the animals from abuse. And this was abuse - plain & simple!!”

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21. clerica said... on Jul 28, 2010 at 04:57PM

“She works in Superfresh cutting meat? Hope they fire her. I don't think she could be that sanitary. She needs professional help. Very sad that it came to this,”

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22. clerica said... on Jul 28, 2010 at 05:01PM

“Anyone who defends this woman for having so many pets is almost as OUT OF TOUCH WITH REALITY as she is. Are the old timers and friends of hers on that street down there really as stupid as all that? yes, STUPID. If you were a friend of hers and you did nothing about this problem for all these years you should be ASHAMED. Defending a friend is one thing, letting the friend stew in piss and feces while putting animals through hell is pure cowardice, laziness and a lack of true friendship. Those people on that street need to take a LONG HARD LOOK AT THEMSELVES. Stop defending that woman, admit that she and YOU were wrong, and start getting her some HELP. She is nuts.”

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23. Anonymous said... on Jul 28, 2010 at 05:08PM

“I live on a different street inSouth Philly closer to South Street. The Old Guard family on the block is the problem. The mom is in and out of jail, the daughter is on drugs and is constantly running around the corner to score, and the son has no job. These people are a waste. They put no priority on educating themselves or doing better for themselves for tomorrow. They sit on an old piece of family real estate they inherited but never worked for themselves. All the other Old Guard Italian friends of theirs up and moved to South Jersey when they made good. This family sits and laments the good old days, not realizing THEY--being white trash--are the reason why their old friends and neighbors left! Now they resent the newcomers who want to transform the street and make it a nicer home. They sit outside and smoke, curse and wait for drugs to come their way, and periodically have a 2 am breakdown in the middle of the street. There are nice old timers and there are Old Guard assholes.”

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24. Anonymous said... on Jul 28, 2010 at 05:10PM

“@LEila
Right on!”

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25. Iamspencer said... on Jul 28, 2010 at 07:58PM

“There are so many organizations for me to be angry with - let me save my ire for PETA: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Seems that their name implies that this is their business. That they were contacted about this and did nothing about it makes them more culpable than any of the other agencies that failed the community.”

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26. Leila said... on Jul 28, 2010 at 10:47PM

“@iamspencer You're right about multiple organizations failing these dogs (as well as the decent non-scumbag residents of Earp St). What I gathered from researching and blogging about these people is that most agencies, including PETA, did not have the legal authority to act on the neighbors' complaints. These groups did what they could to intervene but the Rotontas never allowed anyone in the house to confirm if the neighbors' accusations were correct. And it seems like Fran was a pretty convincing liar, the person who wrote this article was not the only one who was told by Fran prior to the raid that she had only had 4 dogs and that this whole story was nothing more than a fabrication conjured up by mean neighbors who didn't like her and were making up lies to try and get her in trouble. (out of space- con'd to next comment)”

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27. Leila said... on Jul 28, 2010 at 10:53PM

“Fran was even able to convince Fox reporter Robin Taylor that she was a nice old lady who was being bullied by neighbors. This woman had a whole script ready- crooked developers wanted to sell her house, they were working with neighbors to make up stories to get her to leave- of course now we know none of that was true but the woman was a good liar. Good enough a liar that Robin Taylor actually threatened the neighbor who contacted her with a slander suit and accused her of harassing the Rotontas! The only agencies that had the authority to enter the home were the police dept., pspca, and L&I. For some reason the police didn't think a dead body smell justified a search warrant. The PSPCA could not legally get a warrant without an eyewitness account of abuse which was impossible to get since the dogs were never allowed out. The neighbors were afraid to give an account anyway because they thought their names would be made public and the Rotontas would retaliate.”

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28. Leila said... on Jul 28, 2010 at 11:01PM

“The PSPCA wanted to go in there but legally they couldn't. L&I was the one agency that had the power to get an administrative warrant to go in there and they didn't, despite years of complaints to them, the 6 tax liens on the property, and the multiple violations that the Rotontas never corrected. Now we're hearing that someone with L&I filed a report saying that they went in there re: the interior violations- did they not notice the 100 dogs and mountains or shit or did they never actually go there and instead falsified the paperwork? Out of the dozens of agencies that these neighbors contacted, L&I ultimately had the power to put an end to this and they didn't. When the baffled neighbors saw that L&I was protecting the Rotontas, they began contacting councilman DiCicco's office. Unfortunately for them they didn't realize that DiCicco was a family friend of the Rotonta's.”

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29. Leila said... on Jul 28, 2010 at 11:09PM

“There is documented proof online and in print that DiCicco was aware of this situation. If you google the address you'll see that a different major Philly newspaper contacted DiCicco in Oct 2009 about the "smelly house on Earp St" and they printed that DiCicco's office admitted to receiving several calls about the house. I published a blog prior to the raid which included an e-mail written by a Earp St neighbor where she talks about contacting DiCicco and how "since he was a friend of the family he said he would look into it". It is FACT not speculation that DiCicco was aware of what was going on well before the raid and there is proof of that all over the internet. There is also proof on the internet that DiCicco was a family friend, there's even an article from March from a mainstream restaurant site that interviewed Richard's brother about his restaurant clientele where he specifically names Frank DiCicco.”

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30. Leila said... on Jul 28, 2010 at 11:24PM

“I've spent hours upon hours of researching and blogging about this case and everything I've found points to a cover-up involving L&I and DiCicco. This was more than laziness and incompetence. 6 property tax liens dating back to 2004 that were never paid or passed on to the sheriff's office for auction (google DiCicco's stance on the sheriff's office), dozens of complaints filed with L&I that mysteriously disappeared, repeated calls to DiCicco that were not returned, and false L&I reports indicating that someone had been inside the home when that obviously never happened. The house on Earp St isn't the only thing that stinks!”

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31. Insider said... on Jul 29, 2010 at 12:40AM

“To the hoarders and their old guard neighbors: It wasn't any of the people on your street or even anyone who lives near your street who got the house raided so stop bullying your neighbors who did nothing to you except for be forced to breathe in rancid fumes for years! Just because you can breathe in ammonia and urine and feces all day long without getting sick doesn't mean its like that for everyone! That house was a health hazard and I would not be surprised if your neighbors develop respiratory problems from having to breathe those fumes in everyday for years, I hope they sue you for medical bills so you can't afford to live on that street anymore and have to go live outside amongst the cockroaches who I bet are even cleaner than you!”

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32. MediaMike said... on Jul 29, 2010 at 09:16AM

“When is DiCicco next up for election? I hope to hear the slogan "Remember Earp Street!" chanted at every one of his appearances. Hold his feet to the fire. I hope Leila and others who were affected by this do that very thing.”

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33. Sphillyrez10 said... on Jul 29, 2010 at 01:13PM

“I am never going to sphilly superfresh again how could any of her coworkers not notice that god awful smell u can't tell me she was able to get that "clean" laundry smell with 85 dogs in her home not to mention the remains that were in there which means maggots galore as well...similar situations all over the damn city..”

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34. Diptronics said... on Jul 29, 2010 at 02:06PM

“As always PW has done it again! What a captivating tale, though giving the city yet another black-eye and more unwanted animal cruelty ties I found this article to contain everything a feature length film would: Political ignorance, lies and deceit, disillusioned characters that you almost feel bad for bec they've lost grip on reality and of course OG hoodlums watching one another's back.

Oh and i'm surprised all of the other comments haven't touched on this but HOW THE FUCK DO YOU STORE 85 DOGS IN A HOUSE AND GET AWAY WITH IT?”

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35. Anonymous said... on Jul 29, 2010 at 02:58PM

“Hey, Diptronics, the comments DID touch on your area of interest. She & her husband got away with this b/c L&I is a fucking joke and she had ties to councilman DiCicco--either that or he is so incompetent that he simply ignored the repeated requests of his constituents. Either way, that's not what we want in a politician in Philly. Sadly, that's what we too often get.”

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36. Anonymous said... on Jul 29, 2010 at 04:54PM

“Thank God for the Pa SPCA. They even have their Police Officers all over the state. I would like to see a Pittsburgh SPCA on tv”

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37. Anonymous said... on Jul 30, 2010 at 04:29AM

“IT IS TRUE THAT FRAN ROTUNDA WORKED FOR SUPER FRESH STORES AS A MEAT PACKER, AND HER HUSBAND RICHARD AS FRUIT AND PRODUCE, IN REALITY THE DAILY CLOTHES THEY WORE HAD TO STINK, HOW COME SUPER FRESH NEVER SAID A WORD ABOUT THEIR GENERAL APPEARENCE, I KNOW THIS FRAN AND SHE ALWAYS LOOK A MESS PACKING MEAT. THOSE POOR NEIGHBORS, AND INNOCENT ANIMALS.”

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38. Anonymous said... on Jul 30, 2010 at 12:57PM

“My goodness. I live in CA and my friend from NC forwarded my this article. Do the people in this neighborhood (the ones defending this Rotonta woman) have any idea of how bizarre they seem. And what of the husband? Did he still live there? To be fair, this can't just be Fran Rotonta's fault if he was also there.

Coincidentally --the those interesting insulated neighbors reminds me of the film Dogville... No, the irony of the film's name wasn't intended.”

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39. Anonymous said... on Jul 31, 2010 at 10:11AM

“Frances' husband Richard lived there with her and the dogs but he's not being charged alongside her. Might have something to do with the fact that his brother is good friends with their city councilman Frank DiCicco.”

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40. Nosey Old Lady said... on Jul 31, 2010 at 07:02PM

“I've been following this story intently and there's so many unanswered questions I have. I don't live in the neighborhood so I'm not really privy to the gossip but these are the things I'm wondering:
1. If the husband lived in the house why didn't the PSPCA bring charges against him? I saw the comments about the DiCicco connection, does city council have pull with the PSPCA?
2. Did the city clean out the house yet? Does Earp st. still smell?
3. Has there been more bullying/harassment since this story was published?
4. Has anyone talked to Fran since the raid? Is she still in denial? Where did she go after the house got condemned?”

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41. Anonymous said... on Aug 1, 2010 at 02:43PM

“I adopted 2 dogs from her (at no charge). These dogs are fine and I love them to death. I just wanted to let everyone to know that these are healthy, loving dogs and you shouldn't hesitate in adopting them from the shelter because of the situation they came from.”

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42. Assdude said... on Aug 3, 2010 at 12:02AM

“Fran always looked dirty but she never really seemed to smell like she had 85 dogs in her house. I'd say she definitely tops the list of craziest people I've ever worked with.”

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43. tanya said... on Aug 4, 2010 at 11:24AM

“um um um i am speechless. thats philly 4 ya....”

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44. Poop - It's What's For Dinner! said... on Aug 4, 2010 at 02:26PM

“Typical Philly. Defend the bad. Beat out the good. It's no wonder Philly has been voted as fattest, angriest, ugliest and rudest city in the country.

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45. Janice said... on Aug 11, 2010 at 03:56AM

“On another note, the people commenting and ridiculing Bill Smith are either backyard breeders or people who wanted to adopt an animal from his rescue but couldn't because they did not meet his strict criteria. Bill Smith has dedicated his whole life to taking in unwanted animals, neglected animals and abused animals. Main Line rescue has strict standards as to whom they will allow to adopt. Thank God for that. The are a wonderful organization that attempts to place animals in forever homes. I wish I could say the same for some of our other city organizations. For the record, I have only met Bill once (briefly) when he was bringing in a dog to the hospital I worked for. This dog was suffering from serious neglect, and he spent thousands of dollars on rehabilitating this dog. So, your nasty comments about Mr. Smith are unwarrented.”

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Update: Rescued Chihuahuas Will be Available for Foster and Adoption Soon
By taramurtha

After 85 Chihuahuas were rescued from a hoarder raid on Earp Street in South Philly Wednesday night, PSPCA vet nurse Jessie Leighton jumped in her car with 27 of the dogs and rushed them over the bridge to the South Jersey home of Anne Trinkle, founder and president of the Animal Alliance of New Jersey [...]

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UPDATE: 85 Dogs Seized in PSPCA Raid on South Philly Home
By taramurtha

The total number of animals rescued last night are 85 dogs (all Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes), two cats and two deceased dogs. According to the PSPCA, animal cruelty charges pending include unsanitary conditions, lack of veterinary care with a potential misdemeanor charges pending cause of death for the dead dogs. All [...]

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BREAKING: PSPCA Raid on Earp Street Worst Ever, 69+ Dogs Seized So Far
By taramurtha

The stench surging out of the house was an ungodly combination of feces and urine, and the noises were the cries and howls of what PSPCA Director of Law Enforcement George Bengal estimates could be up to 100 animals living in squalor at 739 Earp St. in South Philadelphia tonight. The PSPCA began the raid around [...]

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Back on Earp Street, But Without the Animals
By Tara Murtha

In exchange for the guilty plea, Rotonta received 10 years’ probation (reporting only the first year) and is not allowed to own animals or work for an organization that involves animals for 15 years. She must also submit to a mental-health evaluation and to random inspections by the PSPCA.

RELATED: South Philly Animal-Hoarding Case Goes to Court