October 21, 2014

Elyria
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Family says vermin have overrun abandoned trailer


CHUCK HUMEL / CHRONICLE
Joe and Donna Fischbach and their daughter Halie, 3, pose in front of the trailer next door, which they claim is infested by vermin.

ELYRIA — Living at Colonial Oaks Mobile Home Park isn’t home sweet home when you’re bitten by fleas and have to watch wild, potentially sick critters crawl in and out of an adjoining trailer, according to Donna and Joe Fischbach.

“You walk from my door to the shed and you’re covered with fleas,” Joe Fischbach said, pulling up his pant leg to show a constellation of red bite marks.

Raccoons and rats live in an abandoned trailer at 230 New York Ave., according to the Fischbachs.

The family showed The Chronicle video of a raccoon climbing into the trailer through a hole in the roof. In a second video, a raccoon in obvious distress climbs around on the roof of a nearby shed with a jar stuck on its head.

Park manager Gary Schenkelberg acknowledged there have been complaints about wild animals at the park, off Middle Avenue on the city’s south side.

“We live out in the country,” he said.

The tenant living next to the Fischbachs left earlier this year, Schenkelberg said. He said he hopes to have the abandoned trailer removed within a week. The stumbling block is that the hitch is rusted through and needs replaced, he said.

“We’re remedying the situation,” he said.

The Fischbachs contacted the Elyria City Health Department, and heath inspector John Toth said he was satisfied with Schenkelberg’s promise to remove the trailer within a week.

Toth said he responded to a complaint from the couple in the spring about wild animals at the trailer but didn’t see any when he examined it. At that time, the trailer was in better shape, he said.

Colonial Oaks now has the title to the trailer and can remove it and get the lot ready for a new tenant, Toth said.

Toth said the former tenant of the trailer reportedly came back to feed the wild animals even after she moved out.

The health department posted notices in Elyria’s mobile home parks last August that “strongly recommended” that parks enact rules prohibiting residents from feeding stray or wild animals, Toth said.

Colonial Oaks has a rule that “no outdoor or stray animal is permitted” and that “feeding of stray animals is prohibited as it constitutes a nuisance and a health hazard.”

All five trailer parks in Elyria have enacted the rule, according to Toth.

The Fischbachs are eager to get their happy home back. They said even their toy fox terrier, Lulu, is leery of going outside because of the fleas, and the couple worry she could get bitten by one of the wild animals.

Contact Cindy Leise at 653-6250 or cleise@chroniclet.com.