On orders from county health and housing officials, the home of a couple who kept dozens of diseased cats in their refuse- and feces-strewn residence has been demolished.
Carolyn Johns, owner of the home in the east Salt Lake County neighborhood of Holladay, displayed little emotion Monday while she watched a bulldozer level the single-story building.Johns, 61, simply said: "I just figure everything is in God's hands."
A crowd of neighbors, some of whom have complained for years about the stench from the home, had mixed feelings as they watched the scene.
"I'm glad the smell and mess and garbage are gone but sad she lost her home," said one woman.
"I'm so relieved to see (the demolition) finally happening," said another woman, who also confessed to being "a little shaky . . . sad, but glad."
Johns, her husband, Augustus, along with her daughter and grandson moved out of the home last fall just before Salt Lake City-County Health Department officials - armed with a search warrant - inspected the residence.
Inside they found wall-to-wall garbage, rotting food, rodents and three-dozen diseased cats and kittens that were later euthanized.
Health officials then condemned the home as unfit for human habitation. Weeks of negotiations followed as the Johns promised and then failed to clean the home.
After a county-hired crew cleaned the home of trash and animal droppings, county housing authorities determined it would cost more than it was worth to fix gaping holes in the roof and water-damaged wiring, plumbing and heating systems.
The Johns wanted to make the repairs themselves. But when 90 days passed and county officials determined nothing substantial had been accomplished, the demolition proceeded.
Johns, once a member of the now-defunct Animal Rescue League, said she has "never refused a person or animal in need."
"Anything's that alive, I love," she said.