News: Animal Hoarding in a Shirley, Long Island Home
(Long Island, N.Y.) Dozens of animals were rescued in Shirley last Tuesday when a cow was found living in the sunroom of a two-bedroom house. The find caused a complete evacuation of the residence, in which the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) removed nearly a hundred animals individually. The property belonged to a mentally-compromised elderly woman, but was also inhabited by her twenty-three year old caretaker, his fiancÚ, and a five-year-old child.
The house was located in a residential area, and was built in a Cape-Cod style with 1400 square feet of space on a 10,000 square foot piece of property. Farm animals, exotic animals, and domestic animals were being hoarded into the home, according to authorities. Some of the animals recovered include: a cow, deer, baby bull, a three-hundred-pound pig, sun conure, pheasant, diamond dove, eight goats, five dogs, six cats, two ducks, twenty rabbits, mice, several chinchillas, gerbils, hedgehogs, snakes, three hens, two cockatiels, lovebirds, sixteen different species of rats, and seventy-five pigeons.
The pig was among the larger animals removed from the home and required a tranquilizer as rescue workers cut through the fence to free the animal. At least twelve animals were found dead in the basement of the home and were left to rot along with animal feces, debris, and urine. There was no food or water found at the residence.
The eighty-six-year old homeowner was taken to a safe place; authorities are unsure whether she will face charges. Criminal charges are expected to be filed against the caretaker, who admitted to owning the animals, with possible violations for animal cruelty. The Brookhaven Community Court in Patchogue wrote up eight tickets for housing violations, three of which were considered misdemeanor offenses.
Fees for the town clean-up of the home will have to be paid by the homeowner. The caretaker, who claims to have rescued the animals, has no prior offenses. It's unsure why the animals were neglected and left out during freezing temperatures.
Suffolk County's SPCA is a non-profit organization with sixty staff workers consisting of veterinarians and volunteers who deal with about two thousand cases a year. They handle animal abuse cases and other pet-related scandals such as cockfights. All of their dealings are confidential, and they urge anyone with information about animal abuse cases to call and report the incident through their hotline.
Some of the animals found in the Shirley home were malnourished and have been nursed back to health or put into foster care as they await adoption. Police say that the house was reported years ago for having too many cats. Though the residence was cleaned by friends of the owner, it has since depreciated and has been condemned following Tuesday's discovery.
Some say that the homeowner was considered the neighborhood "cat lady" and was allegedly found by authorities with a cat on her lap and bird on her head. SPCA workers had to enter the home with hazmat suits and gear while pigeons flew around her residence. She has no children.
Neighbors had been complaining for months to police about the horrendous smell coming from the area. One neighbor claimed that a goat ate through his fence and door. Another neighbor with an asthmatic son says that the animal stench has caused him multiple doctor visits. None of the neighbors knew how many animals were living inside the home.
It's unsure what the relationship was between the young caretaker and the owner of the residence. Some reports claim that the caretaker's mother was previously named power of attorney for the elderly woman. Authorities await more information in the development of this case.
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