Chalan Lowry remembers one other time, maybe eight years ago, when the Portage Animal Protective League took in a menagerie comparable to what it suddenly found itself with in Mogadore last week.
“We had a case where we had many dogs, many exotic birds, many chickens, cats, horses,” the APL’s executive director said.
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In connection with a drug investigation, the Portage County Sheriff’s Office and Mogadore police were executing a search warrant at a Second Street home on July 5 when they made the discovery of a large number of non-human residents. The tally included five dogs, one cat, a rabbit, four ferrets, five snakes, three tarantulas, a scorpion, two alligators, three turtles, one snapping turtle, an iguana, 300 fish, six ducks, and two geese.
The APL was then called in and Lowry said the homeowner voluntarily gave up the collection of two-legged, eight-legged, no-legged, furred, scaled and feathered creatures.
“I would say the ferrets, the bunny, some of the dogs, the cat, the snake, many of them were malnourished,” Lowry said. “Some not to an extreme extent, which is good. It’s hard to say. It’s like on the one hand, you know, to some people they don’t look that bad. But I’m like I don’t really want to wait until they get that bad, you know. I’m glad that we intervened. I’m glad that they’re here and that the owner surrendered them to us without a problem. Yeah, some are definitely underweight.”
She said nothing, at least in the last roughly eight years, compares in her experience.
“I think we’ve certainly had some cases since that were sort of borderline hoarding and animals living in kind of a bad situation,” said Lowry. “But we haven’t had anything this large, with that many exotic animals and fish and alligators. It was certainly something we haven’t seen for a while.”
In the immediate aftermath of the APL taking custody, it was reported that the animals were showing some signs of distress.
“The dogs, cat, rabbit, and ferrets were infested with fleas and many were underweight and losing hair from long term skin conditions,” the APL posted on Facebook the next day. “The house was filthy and the animals were living in trash and debris. The snakes had no water or food and were suffering from dehydration, mites and being malnourished. Their tanks were filthy. Because of their conditions they had not been able to shed their skin. The female in the worst shape passed away today. The alligators were in shallow dirty tubs outside.”
Lowry said the dogs and cat were put into isolation. The reptiles were turned over to Herps Alive and the fish to Ohio Fish Rescue, non-profit rescue groups that specialize in reptiles and fish respectively. The tarantulas and scorpion were placed in a foster home, someone with the expertise to properly care for them. Lowry said it is uncertain what killed the snake, but she heard from Herps Alive that it is likely to have been a combination of mite infestation and malnourishment.
The mammals and fowl have remained in the APL’s care.
“The house was really, really filthy. There was like feces and urine on the floor.” Lowry said. “It was a small house with a ton of animals in it. And so I mean, as you can imagine, with a flea infestation and things like that, some of the dogs have hair loss. The ferrets literally had fleas crawling over their eyeballs, so they went to the vet immediately. The rabbit went to the vet. I mean, we’re just trying to get everybody checked over and, you know, because they’re underweight and we don’t know what other issues they might have.”
She said the ducks and geese are also being cared for.
“They’re young, so they look a little unkempt or a little thin and a little dirty, but they’ve been getting cleaned up here, swimming in a little pool and getting good feed,” she said. “So they’re doing OK. They’re not in terrible shape, but they’re not in optimal condition either.”
By Wednesday, Lowry said, there had been signs of improvement, with fleas gone and some weight gain seen. Two of the dogs may be available for adoption as early as this weekend.
“Some are still itchy and have skin problems, but are on the mend,” she said, adding that the cat is out of isolation, but not yet ready for adoption.
“But she’s doing well. Her hair’s growing back in and she’s a little thin, but a cutie pie,” said Lowry.
The sheriff’s office said two firearms, ammunition, items commonly used in the distribution of controlled substances, a digital scale, THC wax, and hashish oil were also found during the search. Portage County Job and Family Services were also called, due to a child found in the home.
No charges have been reported, but the matter was under investigation and the substances found were sent to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation for further analysis.
Calls made to the sheriff’s office seeking updated information were not immediately returned.
Lowry said it is unclear whether there will be any charges in connection with the animals.
“We’re still sort of looking at the veterinary records and seeing what is being said about their states of neglect. So that’s something we haven’t decided yet,” she said.
Lowry said the sudden intake of animals is an opportunity to ask that people consider adoption when considering a pet. Go to https://portageapl.org for more information about adoption or to donate to the Portage Animal Protective League.
“You know, having these animals come in like this was a surprise to us,” said Lowry. “And making space for animals that need to come in means adopting an animal and so if people are in the market or seeking a pet, they should definitely attempt to adopt a new family member because we we can use that cage then to help another animal once it’s empty.”
Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at [email protected]