Birds, rodents, python seized from shop

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LEMON GROVE, Calif. — San Diego Humane Society officials seized more than 30 birds, rodents and reptiles from a Lemon Grove pet store that were allegedly left inside the closed business for days, organization officials said Friday.

Closed SignLaw enforcement officers with the Humane Society and the SPCA said they were called into action when a customer called with complaints of animal neglect.

“One cage in particular that had four rabbits and a duckling in it was right by the window where they could see it and there was no water at all in this cage,” said Chief Randy Lawrence.

Officers armed with a search warrant raided the store on Wednesday.

“They had birds, they had chickens they had one python snake guinea pigs and many other animals,” said Chief Lawrence. “Some were found in a freezer in the store and 3 more animals were found in a dumpster in back, so based on that we eneded up seizing all animals in the pet store.

Officers seized more than 30 animals from the store.  An investigation is now underway.

“Our humane officers will review the evidence collected during the search and file charges, which could potentially include California Health and Safety Code violations and potential animal cruelty and neglect,” Lawrence said.

The animals will receive full veterinary exams and care at the San Diego Humane Society and will remain in its care until the case is reviewed for possible prosecution.

Rita Reece told Fox 5 News she worked at the store 18 years ago.

“They gave me a job for 6 or 7 months, she said I was the best cleaner she ever had,’ said Reece.

Reece said the store has since been handed down to the owner’s daughter.

Fox 5 found the business registred to Denise Wilkins and Charles Mendoza.  County tax assessors show they have owned the business as far back as 1993.  Humane Society officials have not confirmed the information.  No names are being released yet pending charges.

“So far we have not spoken to anyone that claims to be the owner at this point,” said Lawrence.”

Reece said the store has been a part of the Lemon Grove community for 46 years.

“It wasn’t Dave you know Dave and his wife they were always on top of everything,” said Reece.

The animals are not available for adoption at this time.

To report information about any crime against animals contact the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement at 619-243-3466.