PASSAIC, N.J. - Inspectors in Passaic found bird seed and feces covering all surfaces in a 10-square-foot kitchen at back of the Maribel Clothing and Second-Hand Store on Market Street.
The Passaic County S.P.C.A. cataloged 218 exotic birds of varying species and rescues from across the northeast pitched in to save the birds on Monday.
“These were his therapy birds,” said SPCA Officer Luis Vazquez. The shop owner only spoke Spanish and refused to speak to reporters.
“He started out with a few birds and he just kept breeding them and breeding them, and it just got out of control,” said Vazquez.
As many as 20 birds were being kept in a single cage. Cages were stacked on top of each other, stretching to the ceiling. The smell in the room was pungent. Some of the birds had raw skin. They began to self-mutilate out of stress or boredom, said Yvonne England, who runs a bird sanctuary.
England drove from Maryland on Monday morning to pick up the biggest batch of birds. She took home about 100.
“This is not typical. Typically we just get a single bird,” she said, "They most certainly need better nutrition. They could definitely use a lot more space between the birds, and you know showers.”
One rescuer estimated that proper veterinary costs for a single bird could range from $500-$850. None of the 218 birds will be euthanized. All are in need of homes.