Residents of Richmond Street in Port Richmond returned to an unpleasant homecoming after the Fourth of July holiday - the body a large white tail deer decomposing just off Indiana Avenue.
The animal - likely coming from that wild part of the neighborhood east of Interstate 95 - was sprawled on the sidewalk of 2800 E. Indiana, a dead-end strip that meets the highway.
And while there are no occupied homes along the tiny block, the putrid reek was strong enough to pick up from several blocks away and caused a stink among neighbors and nearby businesses last week.
Residents who saw the deer said the animal, a rare sight for this part of town, appeared to have been struck by a car.
“It was sitting there for at least two days,” said Joe Kober, who works at Penners Carpet Co. across the street and was outside when a Streets Department truck took the carcass away at about 4 p.m. on Wednesday, July 6. “It stunk so bad, you couldn’t smell it without it making you sick. I’ve never seen any thing like that around here.”
He and others were worried that neighborhood kids would get sick from going near the rotting deer, and faulted the city with not getting rid of it sooner.
“It was just covered with flies,” said Kober.
One frustrated tipster called the Star to say that the deer was still there three days after he had alerted the city’s 311 hotline to report the odor.
Colleen, an employee at the nearby Richmond Check Cashing, said the carcass was there on Tuesday morning when they opened after the holiday, and already smelled badly.
They called the city several times, and said municipal trucks came out twice on Wednesday, once pouring bleach on the road kill, before finally taking it away.
Mike, another employee of the check cashing shop, said he thought the deer had turned black from sitting so long, but later learned that it was simply covered with flies.
He said he thought the city should have been out sooner, but shrugged his shoulders: “You know how the city works.”
Bill Duncan, a resident of Richmond Street for 40 years, said he called the 311 hotline and state Rep. John Taylor’s office before the city came out and cleaned up the mess.
“It stunk bad,” said Duncan. “They should have gotten rid of it days ago. There were kids looking at it, and that’s just sick and sad for them to see. If it would have been there a few more days, it would have been really bad.”
Joseph Zuccaro, an employee with the city’s Sanitation Department who works in District Five - an area covering Lehigh Avenue all the way up to Cheltenham Avenue and Broad Street to the river - said the weekend combined with the holiday led to a delayed response.
“If someone calls 311, that gets entered into the computer. We don’t work weekends, so that was something we didn’t see until we came in on Tuesday,” said Zuccaro.
Still, he said dead animals are typically a first priority for the department.
“If some calls in a dead animal, we try to get there right away,” said Zuccaro.
Even given the large district, Zuccaro said a dead deer is very rare occurrence for his crew.
“We really don’t see many of them. Up in District 6, that’s where they get more,” said Zuccaro, referring to the area covering Pennypack Park and the Roosevelt Boulevard.
But in his eyes, one dead deer is enough to deal with.
“We just pick it up the best we can,” said Zuccaro. “If it was a horse, I don’t know what we would do.”
A representative from the Streets Department said residents could either call 311 or the Streets Department’s customer service line at 215 686 5560.
You can also report a dead animal using the same website as is used for reporting potholes - http://potholes.phila.gov/csstreets.
Just click “Dead Animal Removal” instead of “Potholes.”
Reporter Brian Rademaekers can be reached at 215 354 3039 or firstname.lastname@example.org.