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.
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The San Diego Humane Society and SPCA's Humane Law Enforcement served a search warrant at Dave's Family Feed and Pet Supply on Broadway in Lemon Grove on Wednesday after receiving complaints that the store had allegedly closed for business with several animals left inside, according to humane society spokeswoman Kelli Herwehe.
Officials seized 16 birds, 11 chickens, rodents and reptiles, including a python snake, Herwehe said.
The search turned up half a dozen dead animals and other animals that were allegedly housed in unhealthy conditions and were often left without water, Humane Law Enforcement Director Randy Lawrence said.
"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.
The animals are not available for adoption at this time, Herwehe said.
"Disgusting; that's just uncalled for, that's neglect," said Sue Stanley, who owns a dry cleaning business across from the pet store.
Stanley told 10News the business was open at odd hours and often smelled bad.
"They're not on the up-and-up," Stanley said, shaking her head.
Many people working and shopping in Lemon Grove's business district had similar things to say about the struggling pet store.
"For me, it's dangerous to have these people because they're dirty, they can cause fires and I don't want to deal with these people," said the building's landlord, who declined to give her name.
The landlord told 10News she's already begun eviction proceedings because the store owner hasn't paid the rent for at least three months.
10News learned through family members that the owner is Darlene Allen. Allen is the daughter of Dave and Sherry Klinger, who owned the store for 38 years before passing it to Allen. She and her boyfriend, Charles Mendoza, ran the store.
Sherry Klinger told 10News she can't fathom the idea that her daughter would leave animals uncared for.
"I can't imagine her letting them die," she said.
Klinger said the last time she'd been to the store was in December. The conditions were so bad she decided to never return and has been estranged from her daughter ever since.
Klinger said her daughter appeared at their El Cajon home asking for help this week, telling her parents she'd been evicted from her home.
"It's so terrible and sad," Klinger said in a shaky voice, explaining that her daughter is hooked on pain pills. "She's lost everything."
Investigators said they want to talk to the store's owner about the condition of the animals, but the owner has been unavailable.
A sign on the store window reads: "Back in 20 minutes, sorry, family emergency."
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