Who, age What Where When Last Known Address
Steven Friedman, 58 doctor kept 40 animals living in squalor

Solon, OH

Cuyahoga County

August 2, 2010  
Heidi Friedman. 48 40 animals kept in squalor

Solon, OH

Cuyahoga County

August 2 , 2010  
Type of Crime Other Crimes #/Type of animal(s) involved Case Status Next Court Date /Courthouse
  child endangerment

25 dogs, 9 cats, 3 birds, a rabbit & 2 guinea pigs

Convicted

Bedford Municipal Court

A Solon woman and her husband have been charged after police found their pets living in deplorable conditions.

Steven and Heidi Friedman are both charged with 39 counts of Cruelty to Animals and two counts of Endangering Children. The couple is out on bond.

Heidi turned herself in earlier in the day while Steven waited until later to turn himself in.

The Solon Police Department confirms that more than three dozen animals were found in the Friedman's home and they all had to be euthanized.

According to officials, the residence was so deplorable and unsanitary that the City Building Department tagged it as condemned and not habitable.

The owner of the home, Steven Friedman, was advised of his rights and waived them before he was interviewed by officers and the City of Solon Prosecutor.

Update 8/16/10:  The city took 3 birds, a rabbit and 33 dogs, puppies, cats and guinea pigs from a Wagon Wheel Drive home. All but a parakeet were euthanized.

Steven Friedman, 58, a podiatrist, and his wife, Heidi, 48, who abandoned the animals in their feces-filled home in the 33500 block of Wagon Wheel Drive, are charged with 39 counts of animal cruelty and two counts of child endangering, police said.

According to the police report:  The Friedman's' neighbor called police to say the couple and their 3 children had gone on vacation Aug. 2, leaving the house closed up and the air conditioner off. Temperatures were close to 90.

Despite the closed windows, police and two animal wardens could smell feces, urine and ammonia, and fleas jumped onto their clothing in the yard. The longtime neighbor said he had never seen the dogs in the yard. Officers looked in the windows and saw dogs sitting on tables.

  (Photo courtesy of the Solon Police - These dogs were found in the living room)

A sergeant reached the Friedman's by telephone and was given permission to enter the house using the garage door code. Animal Warden Steve Suder entered the house and came back out saying respirators and protective clothing were needed. Solon firefighters brought their hazardous materials gear to the home.

The warden and two officers entered and found the rooms strewn with clothes and dog feces. There was a child's wading pool in the front room that held brown water. They videotaped and photographed the scene.

  (Photo courtesy of the Solon police - The Friedman's left this pool for the animals while the family went to Florida)

"Every room in the house from the second-floor bedrooms to the basement had animal feces on the floor and on the furniture," Patrolman Brad Lender wrote. "The second-floor master bedroom had a few inches of dog feces packed down on the floor."

City Building Department official Charlie Boshane declared the house unsanitary and uninhabitable. He placed a "No Occupancy" sign on it. Police contacted the county child welfare agency to report the conditions that the Freidman daughters had been living in. They are 20, 16 and 15. A 22-year-old brother had moved out.

Initially, the officers found 23 puppies and dogs, 6 living cats, 2 dead cats, 2 guinea pigs, a rabbit and 3 birds. The warden said the Friedman's surrendered the animals by phone. Two more dogs were surrendered later.

The city called the Solon Veterinary Clinic on Richmond Road, took all of the animals there and told Dr. Don Bartels to euthanize them because they were abandoned and had fleas, Bartels said.  He said the animals were mixed breeds that had not been groomed. He said one parakeet was spared because the warden had found it a home.

The city said it did not order that the animals be killed, but that Friedman spoke to Bartels and agreed to have them euthanized and pay for it. The city is not being billed for the euthanasia's, Assistant Chief Ray Tittl said.

  (Photo courtesy of Solon police- Police said the Friedman couple slept in this master bedroom)

Officers were sent to the house again over the weekend and found that the family had returned during the night. Steven Friedman claimed that Sgt. Dale Bunjevac had given him permission to be in the house. Bunjavac said he had not. The family were told to go to the police station for questioning. They met with the prosecutor and made other living arrangements. Children services was told where the family would be living.

Friedman said the family had gone to Boynton Beach, FL to help his mother-in-law after the death of his father-in-law. Records confirm the death.

He said he left open bags of pet food and the baby pool of water for the animals. He also said the family had accumulated too many animals, had financial difficulties and couldn't afford to surrender the animals. He told police that there was another dog in the house. A neighbor said they returned from Florida with it. It was surrendered and euthanized.

Heidi Friedman told police that she had bad knees and could only climb the steps to the bedrooms once a day. She signed a statement saying the house was not in bad condition when she left for Florida. The couple said they slept in the master bedroom.

The neighbors said they should have called authorities sooner, but the Friedman's had been very nice to them. They also said that the children smelled foul when they played outside.

Update 8/17/10:  Steven Friedman, 58, turned himself in to police at the True North gas station parking lot in Solon.

Both posted bond and have a court date scheduled for 9 a.m. Sept. 8 in Bedford Municipal Court.

Update 11/17/10:  According to the court's Chief Deputy Clerk John Garmone, the Friedman's cannot have any animals in the home nor any minor children.

But Judge Harry J. Jacob III allowed the Friedman's to visit their daughters who have been living with relatives in Florida.  No trial date has been set.

The couple are represented by attorney Edward W. Rausch and both have pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

On Aug. 13, a neighbor called police and reported that the couple and their three children had gone on vacation Aug. 2.

When police arrived, officers and two animal wardens could smell feces, urine and ammonia outside the house, and saw that fleas were jumping on their clothes outside in the yard.

Police called the Friedman's and were given permission to enter the house by using the garage door code. One officer made it into the home but immediately got out, saying that it was too dangerous to enter.

In the end, Solon firefighters brought their HAZMAT gear to use to enter the home and remove the animals.

Update 4/14/11:  A Solon couple is serving 14 days in jail--which they will be billed for--as part of a plea agreement reached in an animal cruelty case.

The Friedman's pleaded guilty April 6 to three counts, each, of cruelty to animals. The other 36 counts were dropped. Two counts each of child endangerment were dismissed.

They began serving their jail sentences April 7 on a work-release schedule.

In addition to fining the Friedman's more than $2,000 each, Bedford Municipal Court Judge Harry Jacobs also ordered that they each pay the cost of their incarceration, about $900 each.

They will serve three years of active probation, which includes terms prohibiting them from having minor children and pets living in their home, according to John Garmone, chief deputy clerk at Bedford Municipal Court.

Update 5/1/11:  In a case dating back to August 2010, Solon couple Steven and Heidi Friedman both served two weeks in the Solon jail on animal cruelty convictions.

The Friedman's were sentenced to the jail term and probation, along with psychological evaluations and random home inspections. They also are not allowed to have children or animals in their home.

Reference:

Solon Patch Sun News
WKYC WOIO