Landlord details discovery of dead animals at Fairfield home

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FAIRFIELD -

The landlord who found five dead dogs in her tenant’s Fairfield home spoke exclusively to News 12 Connecticut about the discovery and the emotional, physical and financial impacts it’s had on her life.

Celly Roberts says Heidi Lueders initially seemed like the perfect fit to rent her home – the two got along well and both loved animals. Roberts told News 12’s Marissa Alter that she had never had any problems with Lueders as a tenant and that the two had texted regularly about matters involving the house.

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"She fell in love with the house. We hit it off right away," says Roberts.

But in the year living there, Roberts never stopped by until a heating issue in November. Roberts says she was in disbelief to find a dead dog in a cage, decomposed to just bones.

“It blew my mind what I walked into on that day,” says Roberts. “I didn't think it was real. I kept walking closer and closer and when I realized it was real because it had the collar on, I ran out of the house.”

Roberts went back in and found four more dogs in the same condition, along with a dead snake and reptile. She immediately called police.

Police believe the animals were deprived of food, water and love.

Roberts knew Lueders was the president of Bully Breed Rescue and allowed her to move in with four dogs - dogs she says Lueders claimed as her own, never mentioning they were the rescue group's.

“I’ve been a landlord for over 22 years,” says Roberts. “I've never experienced anything like this before...ever.”

Roberts also discovered the home was a disaster filled with piles of garbage, feces and drug paraphernalia.

"It's just been an absolute nightmare, I keep pinching myself hoping to wake up," says Roberts.

She says she put her life savings into the property and the cost to clean and repair it is more than $100,000.

"I've taken on two extra jobs and trying to pick up extra shifts wherever I can just so I can salvage this house," says Roberts.

Along with the financial impact, Roberts tells News 12 Connecticut that she's had health problems from the stress of it all. And emotionally, she can't get the images of those animals out of her mind.

"I can't take those images out of my head," says Roberts. "Those animals were in her possession. She was supposed to take care of them. And she let them down."

A fundraising account has been set up to help Roberts financially.

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