"Smells like dead animals" and other complaints made about a pet treat factory in RiNo

One neighbor said the air smelled like a dead body. Another described the odor as akin to the stench of "a lot of dead rodents." Yet another said he "literally dry heaved into my mouth." Those are just a few of the complaints made to the city's 311 helpline about a pet-treat factory in the hip River North neighborhood. The factory owner denies that his products smell bad, though, and the battle between the two factions is the subject of this week's cover story, "Raising a Stink."

Over the past eight years, the city has received no fewer than 150 complaints about Kasel Associates Industries, a pet-treat manufacturer located at 33rd and Walnut streets in RiNo that's known to its neighbors as the "Pig Ear Factory," because it uses pig ears in its products.

But that's not the only thing they call it.

Here's a sampling of complaints received by the city via phone and e-mail since 2002:

Smells like dead animals. Or rotten meat.

Bad odor in the air. ... Feel like vomiting.

Singeing hair. Acrid scent. Very distinct. Almost a dead-body smell.

Gagging odor is back.

I need to file a complaint about a company in my neighborhood. ... They process pig ears as chew toys for pets, and twice now in the last month they have left rotting pig flesh in their dumpster, stinking our neighborhood up so bad that it makes me wretch when outside. The last time it happened ... I called the fire department and they responded as if it were an emergency. ... I thought it was a dead and rotten human body somewhere in the neighborhood. When they arrived, they agreed that it smelled like a body. Upon searching the neighborhood, they identified the source of the foul odor as Kasel's dumpster, which contained rotten pig parts that had been baking in the dumpster all weekend. After that incident, I learned through a neighbor's HOA that numerous complaints have been filed against Kasel in the past. The odor is incredibly offensive. I don't know how it is tolerated by the city.

Smells like burning human flesh.

The smell of rotten meat is throughout the air. The odor can be smelled for miles.

Pig ear smell has ruined the "whole weekend."

Disgusting smell in her house. It has been 100 degrees and can't hardly turn on air because of the whopping stench that comes in. It stinks really bad in her house and she would like to know if something can be done about it.

...the Kasel stink-a-thon is going on right now.

Terrible smells today and over the last week, including buckets of slop in alleyway.

The smell from the plant at 3315 Walnut is just awful. Can't enjoy sitting outside.

This is a complaint about the terrible smell of pig ears cooking. ... It is disgusting enough for me to endure but downright embarrassing when my clients have to smell it when I'm outdoors with them taking their portraits. Also, the stench comes into my unit via the swamp cooler. Today was another bad day of smells. It's disgusting that this is allowed in an area where there are this many residential units.

Appalling pig ear processing stench.

We are gagging from the smells from the pig ear factory in the RiNo neighborhood. We were told by city council to report to 311.

Disgusting odors ... Causes headaches and aggravates asthma.

These odors are literally headache producing and throat irritating.

Smells like rotting animal.

It is an invisible cloud of terrible odor.

The problem is not going away and we wish that someone would take care of this.

On March 19, the city received five complaints about Kasel Associates Industries that it deemed valid, which triggered a relatively new clause in the city's odor ordinance that allowed the Denver Department of Environmental Health to cite the factory and fine it $500.

But company owner Ray Kasel wasn't about to roll over. He fought the citation, arguing that the complaining neighbors were untrustworthy and that the city had "predetermined to cite him." The Board of Environmental Health disagreed and upheld the citation. Kasel is now suing the city, three neighbors and several city officials, including city councilwoman Judy Montero, for conspiring against him, harassing him and violating his constitutional property rights. Read more in this week's feature, "Raising a Stink."

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