Today’s news:

Oakland Gardens home attracts vermin

Neighbors living near a vacant Oakland Gardens home said they believe the site has been attracting unwanted critters into their community, including a skunk that has sprayed several neighborhood pets.

The home, at 218-51 Hartland Ave. in Oakland Gardens, has been sitting empty for a number of years following the death of the owner, neighbors said. A car with four flat tires in the driveway has a 2001 inspection sticker in the window, a porch in the back of the property is filled with musty furniture that is stacked in piles and a side door has a broken-out window.

Residents living along the street and behind the vacant property said they were fed up with animals scampering to and from the home during the past few years, including raccoons, rats, possums and a skunk.

“It’s been going on for a year and a half,” resident James Kissen said. “What are we supposed to doi These animals can get rabies, so it’s not just a nuisance.”

Frank and Kathleen Cumberland, who live behind the property, said their German shepherd Caesar was sprayed by a skunk near the empty house last week, causing him to crash through their house and drag the bad scent in with him.

“There was such a foul odor,” Frank Cumberland said. “I felt like I could pass out from it.”

Kathleen Cumberland said Caesar also previously caught a rat near the property.

“It’s getting scary,” she said. “I’m afraid my dog is going to get bit.”

The Cumberlands said they called the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and several city agencies about the matter, but they were told there was nothing that could be done.

“They just keep passing the buck,” Frank Cumberland said. “They’re telling us to call an exterminator, but this is not our house.”

But an ASPCA spokeswoman said they deal solely with domesticated animals and do not handle wildlife. She said the residents should contact an animal care and control office

Neighbors of the home said the property was currently being maintained by an attorney, but it was unclear who owns the home. The house’s lawn appeared to have been recently mowed, but no one answered the door.

“It’s not pleasant to look at,” said a neighbor of the property who did not want to be identified. “There’s an abandoned car in the driveway.”

The city’s Department of Finance, which contains records of city property owners, could not be reached for comment. It is unclear who owns or is responsible for maintaining the Hartland Avenue home.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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