More Than 400 Animals Were Removed From a New York Home — Including Turtles and a Skunk Living in Their Own Filth

More than 400 animals were rescued from a home in Bellmore, New York, on Tuesday, June 21, the Associated Press reports. According to local news outlets, Nassau County SPCA workers clad in hazmat suits spent eight hours removing more than 150 turtles and over 250 birds, as well as lizards, prairie dogs, chinchillas, parrots and even one skunk, from the home on Long Island.

The seizure was appropriately titled "Operation Noah's Ark."

Authorities were notified by neighbors who complained of noises and smells. According to the local news outlet, the animals were living inside the house in their own filth and surviving on dirty water.

“They were living in feces-encrusted cages,” Gary Rogers of Nassau County SPCA told Fox Wilmington. “The smell was overwhelming. We had to open all the windows. … It's a condition that you wouldn't want to live in, and we have a responsibility not to leave the animals there either.”

Turtles
Turtles Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

This isn’t the first time that authorities have been called to the home. In August, a four-foot-long alligator was removed from the property.

According to reports, homeowner Gary Gruber was warned after that incident to clean up. After Tuesday’s visit from the SPCA, he was charged with violations from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and he may face animal cruelty charges from the district attorney’s office.

Gruber was allowed to keep his cats and dogs. His lawyer, Nathan DeCorpo, told Newsday that he “was doing the best he could to care for the animals.” DeCorpo told the Associated Press that Gruber’s clients brought him the animals for rehabilitation, but DeCorpo notes that Gruber’s own health is deteriorating. 

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