Hundreds of birds found in Aurora hoarder’s home
BY ERIKA WURST firstname.lastname@example.org October 19, 2012 12:36PM
Aurora Police, Fire and Animal Control investigate the scene of a home housing hundreds of birds both dead and alive on Friday, October 19, 2012. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 22, 2012 6:34AM
AURORA — Police are investigating an apparent animal hoarding incident after finding hundreds of birds inside a home on the city’s far East Side.
“It’s really difficult to articulate in words,” what was seen inside the home, police spokesman Dan Ferrelli said. “It’s a pretty extreme case.”
Police, fire, animal control and property inspection personnel all were called to the home in the 200 block of Shadybrook Lane Friday.
Ferrelli said they were unable to determine how many birds were alive — or dead — inside the home because the scene was not deemed safe for investigators to enter. He estimated the number of birds — finches, canaries, parakeets, conures, cockatiels and others — was in the hundreds.
Crews are waiting on air quality tests before they enter the home.
“It might be too dangerous. The safety of our first responders is first on our mind,” Ferrelli said.
Ferrelli said air quality samples will be forwarded to a lab in Phoenix, Ariz., for additional analysis. The final test results are not expected until Monday, he said, so there will be no cleanup efforts at the house over the weekend.
Hazmat crews entered the home on Friday wearing white suits and protective face coverings, but were unable to remove the animals. Ferrelli said garbage, junk and bird feces littered the inside of the home, but that the situation was not dangerous to neighbors.
According to police, the investigation began on Wednesday when a painting contractor working on the outside of the home noticed several dead birds inside and called police.
Aurora Animal Control and city inspectors started an investigation based on what they saw looking through the windows of the home. They deemed the property unfit for habitation, contacted the homeowner, and received a search warrant for the property.
Bird sounds could be heard coming from inside the residence on Friday afternoon.
Ferrelli said the home’s 57-year-old owner has been cooperative, and seemed to be very concerned about the animals. He stopped by on Thursday to bring food and water to the birds. Ferrelli said he was unsure if the man was actually living in the home, but that he had been tending to the animals.
“He thought he was caring for them in a manner they should be cared for, but that was obviously not the case,” Ferrelli said.
Animal Control has made arrangements to have the birds checked by a veterinarian and transferred to the Greater Chicago Caged Bird Club rescue group once they are removed from the home.
A neighbor across the street said the owner would often say hello.
“I’ve lived here for three years and I didn’t know something was wrong,” said the woman, who asked that her name not be used. “I had no idea.”
Joey Mroz moved into his home nearby two months ago, but said he did not know the man.
Mroz called the situation startling.
“I consider it to be very strange,” he said as he watched crews try to remove some trash and debris from the home. “I never through that would happen in Aurora.”
Ferrelli said in his 16 years working with the Aurora police, he has seen few incidents like the one on Shadybrook Lane.
“It’s a very challenging situation in there,” he said.
No code violations or criminal charges will begin until the birds are removed from the home and the investigation progresses.