The owner of 245 birds seized by OHS investigators in one of the largest animal rescues in Oregon history (previous story here) now faces felony charges. Based on evidence gathered by OHS, a Clackamas County grand jury last week indicted the owner on multiple felony counts of criminal animal neglect.
OHS was alerted to the condition of the birds by a citizen who was concerned about overcrowding, poor sanitation and inadequate air circulation inside a barn housing the birds in Damascus. The birds were living in overcrowded cages filled with feces and waste that was sometimes several inches deep. Cages were often stacked three or four high, with feces and food waste overflowing from the top cages to the cages below.
Dozens of exotic birds were seized, including African grey parrots, macaws, cockatoos and conures. Many of the birds were suffering from severe feather plucking and overgrown nails and beaks.
The owner of the birds identified himself as a long-time breeder. Each of the three animal neglect felony charges he faces carries a maximum jail term of five years and a fine of up to $125,000. The three felony counts include all 245 birds rescued, with each count covering multiple animals.
The indictment on felony charges was possible because of a 2013 Oregon law strongly backed by OHS. The Omnibus Animal Welfare law elevated misdemeanor animal neglect crimes to the felony level when more than 10 animals are involved.
“Neglecting hundreds of animals is a far different crime than neglecting one animal,” said OHS Executive Director Sharon Harmon. Harmon applauded Clackamas County Deputy District Attorney Eriks Berzins for his work on the case and for gaining an indictment on felony charges. “This case involves a huge amount of evidence painstakingly gathered by OHS investigators. We’re confident that justice will be served for the animals,” said Harmon.
After being rescued in July, the birds were transferred to an emergency facility operated by OHS. The birds are not available for adoption at this time, as they are part of an ongoing court case. “We are committed to caring for the rescued birds for as long as this case requires,” said Harmon.
The owner was also indicted on a misdemeanor neglect count related to a kinkajou, an exotic mammal that is a member of the raccoon family. The owner is scheduled for arraignment on November 8.
More Information & How You Can Help
The birds are not available for adoption at this time. OHS will continue to update the public as the case progresses. There is not a wait list for interested adopters; however you are encouraged to watch our website for updated information and to see pets currently available for adoption.
Donations of toys and supplies are most helpful as OHS continues to care for these birds. You can find our Wish List of needed items here »