By Arielle Dollinger
When the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office arrived to evict two sisters from a Huntington residence and adjacent army surplus store on Wednesday, they found an estimated 100 exotic birds, 20 cats and one dog among hundreds of hoarded items, Suffolk County SPCA officials confirmed.
The Sheriff’s Department called the SPCA around 7 a.m., after discovering the furry and feathered creatures living in “deplorable” conditions with an “overwhelming” smell at 391 West Jericho Tpke., SPCA Chief Roy Gross said.
When SPCA officers arrived, he said bird cages were scattered throughout both houses on the property; some birds were standing in 7 or 8 inches of feces; some could not stand up in their cages.
The property’s structures are “not fit for animals and certainly not fit for people either,” Gross said. The SPCA sent officers in wearing hazmat suits and breathing apparatus.
Muriel Gluck and her sister Doreen own the Jericho Turnpike store and two other structures on the property – a residence and a garage – and were evicted for reasons unrelated to the animals and town code, town spokesman A.J. Carter confirmed.
The Glucks turned the birds over to the SCPA and were to be checked by veterinarians, documented and taken in for evaluation. Neither sister would comment Wednesday. Rescue groups will take some of the animals into foster care and prepare them for adoption, Gross said. The Town of Huntington is handling the dog and cats.
Town of Huntington Animal Control Officer Michael Costa said that some of the cats were feral and traveled to and from the property. The feral cats could not be documented, he said.
According to Costa, the rescue was made more difficult by Wednesday’s low temperatures and light snowfall – some birds are 30 years old and fragile as it is, he said.
West Hills resident Anne Biernacki was driving past the store on Wednesday and stopped when she noticed the commotion.
“As an animal lover, it’s just sad to see the place go,” said Biernacki, calling the store “an institution” and expressing desire to take some of the birds and bird cages. “I know she tried to do good for all her animals.”
Huntington town code restricts the number of cats and dogs in one house to four total, in any cat-dog ratio, Carter said. Town code does not set a limit on pet birds, Carter said.
Laura Flannery, a member of the Long Island Parrot Society, came to offer to take some of the birds when she heard about the situation. She arranged with SPCA officers to do so, and said that Rockville Centre’s Parrots of the World, Ltd.’s Marc Morrone is taking birds also.
“What a sin; all those animals,” she said. “Honestly, it’s a terrible waste of life.”
On Wednesday, Clark Street was lined with bird cages, a once-pink Barbie car tainted by something brown, wood and cardboard boxes. People wearing black garbage bags over their clothes carried boxes and wheeled carts to transport wood and metal from the backyard to the property perimeter.