EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 25, 2014

Police remove 65 birds from home in Lawrence

By Sara Brown

---- — LAWRENCE — Acting on an anonymous tip, Lawrence police removed 65 birds and three kittens from cramped quarters at a Newton Street home yesterday.

When animal control officer Ellen Bistany responded to the call, she found the birds crammed into an enclosed second floor porch, without proper heat and ventilation. The animals were later taken to the MSPCA-Nevins Farm in Methuen, where they will be cared for until new homes are found. The birds included a variety of parrots, doves and finches, police said.

Neighbors complained to Bistany about the birds being kept in unsanitary and unsafe conditions, according to acting police Chief James Fitzpatrick.

“It was kind of dangerous situation, because there were newspapers spread around the space heater. It could have been very dangerous,” Fitzpatrick said in an interview last night.

“This could have turned into a bad situation if the newspapers had caught fire on the floor from the space heater,” he said.

The owner, whose identity is not being released, agreed to turn the animals over to the MSPCA when it was clear they were endangered. The birds are believed to be healthy despite being cold and hungry.

“Some of them had sores and needed to have their nails trimmed,” Fitzpatrick said. “The owner wasn’t able to take care of them other than feed them,” he said.

The owner is a woman in her early 60s, according to Fitzpatrick. He said she lives at the home with an teenage daughter and no charges will be brought against her after she voluntarily surrendered the animals. According to city ordinance, residents are only allowed three pets per dwelling, the chief said.

“It looked like a hoarding mentality ... that she thought it wasn’t a problem to have 65 birds,” Fitzpatrick said.

Nevins Farm Director Mike Keiley said he will make the bird’s safety his top priority.

“Not only have these birds endured a level of overcrowding typically seen in hoarding conditions, but their socialization and overall health needs have gone unmet for years,” Keiley said in a press release.

“Many of them are fragile and scared — and you can imagine how bad the conditions were when for their own well being we opted to take them from the home on a day when the temperature was hovering around ten degrees.”

Three kittens were also taken from the home. Keiley expects for all the birds and kittens to recover from their conditions and to be able to find a “forever home.”

Keiley said donations now are desperately needed.

“Monetary donations are very important in these times because of the now greatly expanded number of animals who need our care,” he said.

The 65 new additions have strained an already overloaded bird room at the facility’s Noble Family Animal Care and Adoption Center, which is now housing close to 90 birds.

The birds will live at the MSPCA-Nevins Farm until permanent homes can be found.

Anyone interested in adopting one or some of the animals is encouraged to visit the MSPCA-Nevins Farm Animal Care and Adoption Center at Care and Adoption Center at 400 Broadway, Methuen or visit www.mspca.org.

Reporter Mark E. Vogler contributed to this report.

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