Authorities rescued nearly 300 rabbits, birds and other animals from a filthy home in New York and charged a self-help book author with cruel confinement of animals, prosecutors announced.
‘Operation Open Cage’ started October 1 when investigators were contacted by animal control officers who reported a hoarding situation in the hamlet of Miller Place on Long Island, the Suffolk County district attorney’s office said.
Officers wearing hazardous material suits found a total of 118 rabbits, 150 birds, 15 cats, seven tortoises, three snakes and several mice living among filth, many surrounded by their own feces and urine and covered with cockroaches and filth, the district attorney said.
Some of the animals were also suffering from untreated medical conditions.
The owner of the home, Karin Keyes, 51, was charged with multiple counts of cruel confinement of animals.
She’s a social worker and the author of a self-published book titled ‘Journey Into Awareness: Reclaiming Your Life.’
Teams from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals helped the district attorney’s Biological, Environmental and Animal Safety Team and local officers in removing and transporting the animals to animal welfare organizations around New York for medical care.
‘When ASPCA responders arrived on the property, it was clear that immediate intervention was necessary to remove hundreds of neglected animals from the inhumane and brutal conditions they were subjected to and provide them with expert care,’ said Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA.
‘The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office has developed a task force dedicated to helping animals in need, and we commend them for prioritizing efforts to stop animal neglect and cruelty in their communities. The ASPCA is proud to support their work by bringing these animals to safety and assisting the prosecutorial case through evidence collection, forensic exams, and legal and investigative support.’
Brookhaven Town Council member Jane Bonner said in a statement, ‘The level of cruelty and the abhorrent conditions that the animals were subjected to is beyond comprehension. The awful neglect that they were forced to endure cannot be excused or explained in any way.’
Jed Painter, the supervising attorney of the district attorney’s animal unit, told Newsday that Keyes ‘got very overwhelmed with animals under her care.’
He added, ‘The conditions of any household with 300 animals is going to have toxic ammonia levels.’
‘Thanks to our partnership with the Town of Brookhaven, we were alerted to the deplorable conditions these helpless animals were living in and we immediately took action,’ said Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond A. Tierney.
‘Through our partnerships with local government and rescue groups, we can work cohesively to ensure that these types of inhumane abuse of animals are addressed and those who participate in them are held accountable.’