MUNCIE, Ind. (WISH) – Workers at the Muncie Animal Shelter found nearly 700 animals living inside a business suite the size of a garage on Wednesday.
Officials said a man was living with the animals. All of them have been seized and the shelter is looking for someone who can care for them.
“It’s just a really kind of bizarre situation. There’s not much rhyme or reason to it,” said Muncie Animal Shelter Superintendent Phil Peckinpaugh.
Peckinpaugh’s phone at the Muncie Animal Shelter wouldn’t stop ringing Wednesday afternoon after what he found inside a city business.
“It was just a one of a kind call; only kind I’ve ever been on like that before,” he said.
Peckinpaugh said a Muncie building commissioner went to this strip mall to do an occupancy check on a business when he noticed a strong smell coming from a suite nearby.
“The smell was seeping through the walls,” Peckinpaugh said.
That smell turned out to be animals inside the business. Not just a few, but hundreds of them.
“The first thing you saw when you walked in was just a wall that was filled with mice and rats,” he said.
Peckinpaugh and shelter workers loaded up all the animals and moved them into the shelter’s garage.
“We counted, we had to individually count every single mouse and there’s a total of 500,” said shelter worker Paige Williamson.
And they take up space at the front of the garage. Near the back, there’s an 8 and 10 foot python, 7 lizards, hedgehogs, an alligator and a parrot.
This discovery, puts the shelter in a tough situation.
“This is an incredible burden for the shelter. You hate to say that taking in any animal is a burden, but we are definitely not equipped to handle these types of animals at all,” Peckinpaugh said.
Peckinpaugh said Muncie has a strict ban on exotic pets, including snakes and alligators. Police said the owner won’t face criminal charges, but he will be cited for violating the city’s ordinance and having those reptiles.
The owner signed all the animals over to the shelter, so Peckinpaugh said they don’t have to wait 10 days to release them.
They are now working with the director of the state humane society to help find rescues and individuals to find placement for the animals.
Anyone who thinks they can help, call the Muncie Animal Shelter at 765-747-4851.