MONTCLAIR, Calif. – Southern California authorities dispatched to an animal hoarding call on Friday morning at an industrial complex arrived to find a gruesome scene – a number of dead animals and hundreds of others in desperate need of a rescue, according to KTLA.
Birds, fish and reptiles were among the deceased animals found when officers responded to a commercial building in the 4600 block of Arrow Highway, according to Montclair Police Department Sgt. John Minook.
He said 1,000 animals were discovered dead.
Nearly 2,000 live chickens, parakeets and other birds, including some exotic species, were rescued from the warehouse, as were dozens of fish, according to the Inland Humane Society. However, the organization could not immediately confirm how many were deceased.
“Despite the doors being closed, we could smell an odor of feces and decay. For lack of a better term, a chicken farm smell,” Minook told the Los Angeles Times. “This is probably the worst I’ve seen in my career.”
The animals were kept in conditions that authorities described as "deplorable" and "appalling."
"There was little ventilation provided. Rescue Officers could not find any food or water for the birds. The warehouse was covered in feces and filled with trash," the Humane Society said in a Facebook post.
The owner of the birds was arrested on unrelated offenses earlier in the week, and now faces felony animal cruelty charges, according to the post. His name has not been released.
According to Peggy King, an office manager at one of the businesses in the complex, the man had attacked someone who worked there the previous week.
She told KTLA he had called the police claiming the other individual had attacked him.
"He opened the door for them to all be in here because when the police came up, that's when they smelled the smell and heard noises in there. So he opened the door for all this to happen," King said.
King called the situation "sad," but added that she was somewhat relieved that the man faced charges.
“It’s sad. You’re kind of relieved … You just always had that little nervousness walking by his building or going to the mailbox, just because it was strange, the activity that was going on in the last few months – it got bad," she explained.
The man had been in the building for about three years, but the "bizarre activity" only began recently, according to King.
"Animals being delivered, the smell, the noise, him roaming around, we have cameras on the buildings, so you see him walking throughout all hours of the night," she said.
Montclair police, the Department of Health, the Humane Society and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals all assisting in the animal cruelty investigation, authorities said.
The grisly finding sparked a major response at the scene – numerous animals were driven away for evaluation and treatment.
The rescued exotic birds were being taken to the Humane Society and SCPA, which will also care for and house the chicks and chickens with the assistance of the staff at the Boys Republic in Chino, according to the post.
No additional details were immediately available.