Fort Dodge officials want experts skilled at restoring buildings in the wake of disasters to check out two houses where 35 cats and nine dogs were found last month.
Firefighters who helped to remove the animals from 310 and 312 G St. on July 26 found dangerous levels of ammonia - up to 200 parts per million - in the air inside the homes.
On Monday, the City Council, acting as the Board of Health, ordered an inspection to be completed by experts in two to three weeks. The inspection is to be paid for by Kathleen Bond, the owner of both houses.
''She feels strongly that she would like to make a good faith effort to rectify the situation,'' Monty Fisher, Bond's attorney, told the council.
Whoever does the inspection will be required to submit a report to the council outlining what has to be done to make the houses safe for people to live in.
Bond, who lived at 312 G St., has not been in the houses since the animals were removed. Fisher initially asked that she be allowed back inside to determine what needs to be done to clean up the houses.
However, council members decided that trained people wearing protective gear should do that because of the danger posed by the ammonia.
''Ammonia is no laughing matter,'' Councilman Andy Fritz said.
Councilman Dave Flattery said police and firefighters found the houses to be ''overwhelmed with cats and dogs and the smell of feces and so forth.''
''Basically, the entire structure is saturated with cat urine,'' Councilman Terry Moehnke said.
He asked for a professional analysis of the homes' structural integrity in case the ammonia seeped into the wood and dry wall, weakening the building.
Authorities went to the houses at 11:30 a.m. July 26. That's when the ammonia reading of 200 parts per million was recorded. The next day, after the windows in the houses had been left open almost 24 hours, ammonia readings in the range of 40 to 70 parts per million were recorded.
That ammonia is not a threat to surrounding homes, according to Fire Chief Kent Hulett.
''I can assure them that the neighborhood is safe,'' he said.