Authorities were on site Wednesday at a pet store in Burnside to rescue more than 100 exotic animals after the owner was charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty.
Tim’s Reptiles and Exotics, located at US 27 South at the Tri County Flea Market, has been shut down following an investigation by the Burnside Police Department, with the help of Animal Control from the Pulaski County, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Special Investigation Unit, Pulaski County Attorney’s Office and Somerset-Pulaski County Humane Society.
Due to the scale of the operation, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) – based in Washington, DC – was also enlisted by BPD to help rescue some 150 exotic animals that were in the store during its closure. The investigation began based on concerns from Burnside City Code Enforcement.
Local authorities issued a search and seizure warrant at the pet store around 11 a.m. Dozens of snakes, lizards, turtles, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils and fish have been found living in unsanitary and deplorable conditions, usually seen in situations of gross neglect. Pet shop operator Timothy C. Lorraine, 61, of Whitley City, has been arrested by the Burnside Police Department on 19 counts of animal cruelty.
HSUS officials said in a press release that the guinea pigs and several turtles were forced to share the same enclosure, which was covered in cobwebs. The water in the aquariums was cloudy and most animals apparently had no access to food or drinking water. The hamsters frantically gnawed at the metal siding of their makeshift enclosure, and some rabbits were found in sterile cages with nowhere to find relief thanks to the wire floors.
“It was deeply disturbing to witness the dark lives of these animals in this store of horrors,” said Todd Blevins, Kentucky director for the Humane Society of the United States. “We are grateful to the Burnside Police Department and all of the organizations involved in getting these animals the care they desperately need.”
The animals underwent initial veterinary examinations on site and were turned over to the Burnside Police Department. The HSUS said the animals will continue to receive the much-needed attention through several organizations ready to provide specialist care. Among the groups that welcome animals are Liberty Nature Center, Thoroughbred Exotics, Bourbon County Rescue, Paws 4 the Cause, Lexington Humane Society, Wildlife Matters Rehabilitation Haven, and KY Fish and Tank Rescue.
“I was shocked to see animals living in these conditions,” Burnside Police Chief Mike Hill said. “It is a great relief to all of us here that these animals have the opportunity to be rehabilitated, with the help of the Humane Society of the United States and everyone involved in making this happen today. “
Lorraine was taken to the Pulaski County Detention Center on Wednesday afternoon on a $ 5,000 cash bond. He is due to be brought to justice Friday morning in Pulaski District Court on second degree animal cruelty charges.