Authorities are calling an exotic pet store a ‘house of horrors’ after finding more than 150 neglected animals. Southern Kentucky police seized the animals after a raid at Tim’s Reptiles and Exotics on Wednesday morning.
Inside, authorities found dozens of lizards, snakes, hamsters, gerbils, fish, rabbits and turtles living in cruel conditions.
“It was deeply disturbing to witness the dark lives of these animals in this shop of horrors,” Todd Blevins, Kentucky director for the Humane Society of the United States, said in a statement.
The raid follows a full-scale investigation launched after concerns were raised by Burnside City Code Enforcement. Burnside police arrived at the pet store around 11 a.m. Wednesday and served the operator, Tim Lorraine, 61, with a search and seizure warrant, authorities said. Due to the scale of the operation, the police also requested the assistance of the human society the United States.
After an investigation by the Burnside Police Department, the pet store was closed and Lorraine was arrested on 19 counts of animal cruelty, according to a statement released by police. His charges include second degree cruelty to animals. In Kentuckythose convicted of animal cruelty offenses can face up to 12 months in jail and pay up to $500 in fines.
Inside the pet store, authorities and the humane society found extreme cases of animal cruelty and neglect, including murky tanks, guinea pigs and turtles sharing an enclosure, and the animals had only little or no access to drinking water or food.
Animal enclosures were covered in cobwebs and hungry hamsters gnawed at their wire enclosures while small turtles rested in the algae-infested water.
“I was shocked to see animals living in these conditions,” Burnside Police Department Chief Mike Hill said in a statement. “It is a great relief to all of us here that these animals will have the opportunity to be rehabilitated, thanks to the help of the Humane Society of the United States and everyone involved in making this happen today. .”
The animals were all turned over to the Burnside Police Department and underwent on-site veterinary examinations. Several animal welfare organizations take steps to ensure that animals receive the necessary treatment.
“Overall, the animals are settling very well into their clean, comfortable living conditions,” said Kirsten Peek, media relations manager for the Humane Society. Newsweek. “They woke up because they got much needed care, proper food and clean water. I’m told the mice, in particular, have amazing personalities that are starting to emerge.”
Lorraine is being held on $5,000 cash bond at the county detention center. His arraignment is scheduled for Friday morning in Pulaski District Court.
Newsweek contacted the Burnside Police Department and the Kentucky Department Fish and wildlife but did not receive a response in time for publication.
Correction of 9/3/2021, 2:56 p.m. ET: This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Tim Lorraine’s name.