(MACOMB, Ill.) — An Illinois pet store owner was arrested and charged with felony animal cruelty this week after 41 dead rabbits, hamsters, snakes and mice were discovered in her store, authorities said.
An additional 56 animals were found alive inside the store, as well, and taken to foster homes.
Police in the western Illinois town of Macomb received multiple complaints about a strong odor coming from the Macomb Pet Land, which appeared to be closed.
When they arrived at the store, they were greeted with signs on the door that said “Closed for Maintenance” and “Animals Are Fed & Watered Daily!!,” according to a statement from Macomb Police Chief Curt Barker.
“Once officers entered the business they were overwhelmed with the smell of dead animals and the smell of ammonia.”
Investigators determined that power to the building had been shut off on May 14th due to non-payment of the bill, which means the animals languished without power or ventilation for about 12 days before the survivors were discovered.
Police sought immediate medical assistance for the surviving animals and veterinarian Dr. Karen Blakely was among those who responded.
“Obviously everybody I mean is upset you know, the conditions and how can this happen,” Blakely told ABC affiliate KHQA-TV. “I think everybody pretty much moved from shock to horror to anger.”
Store owner Jessica Spangler told police that she had coordinated with someone else to care for the animals and was unaware of the condition in which they were left, Barker said at a press conference this week, according to KHQA-TV.
Police said in the statement that the investigation is ongoing and that “additional arrests are pending.”
Among the dead animals were eight rabbits, a gerbil, five hamsters, 10 snakes, three hermit crabs, three tarantulas, one lizard, one rat, one guinea pig, one cockatiel bird, five mice and an unknown number of fish.
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