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ALBANY, Ore. — Police say more than 200 rabbits and guinea pigs are now safe, after investigators found them stacked in an Albany garage – but now they need new homes.

Police say 58-year-old Pamela O’Brien is facing multiple charges, including animal neglect for hoarding the animals in her garage on the 2200 block of Southeast Marion Street.

Investigators with the police department say they were at O’Brien’s home this week for an unrelated matter when they noticed an awful stench. They say 145 rabbits and 58 guinea pigs were stacked in cages in the woman’s garage and in the breezeway, with barely any room to walk around. Police say the animals were underfed, their drinking water was dirty, and 6-10 inches of feces lined the bottom of each cage. Investigators call the conditions “deplorable.”

On Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, Albany police took the animals from O’Brien, who signed them over to SafeHaven Humane Society. Police say they do not know what they would have done without the help of SafeHaven, which in a period of 10 hours, gained more than 200 extra animals that it was not expecting to take in.

While police worked to bring the rabbits into their vehicles cage-by-cage, concerned neighbors watched with frustration.

“I didn’t have any idea that their garage was stuffed with cages of hundreds of rabbits,” said neighbor Jody Harmon. “It could make someone cry.”

O’Brien is facing six misdemeanor charges, including three counts of animal neglect in the second degree, one count of improper animal containment, one count of area required, and one count of junk and trash. Police say she is also facing three other violations for not licensing her dogs. She has a municipal court appearance in August.

Police say O’Brien also has three cats and three dogs, and are investigating their conditions.

“I’m fearful for the animals,” Harmon said. “I’m disgusted. I worry for the cats mainly. Which are still over there.”

For now, the rabbits and guinea pigs are at SafeHaven in Tangent, which just opened its new facility.

“We have every type of rabbit and guinea pig you could imagine,” said SafeHaven’s Executive Director Chris Storm. “Everything from older adults to babies.”

Storm says the facility would not have been able to take in all the animals without the help from staff, volunteers, and other businesses.

“For example, Coastal Farm is lending us these stock tanks for the rabbits to be in until we can find something else to put them in,” Storm said. “We’re using all of our cat and dog kennels too.”

With so many animals, Storm says SafeHaven is overwhelmed.

“I’ve never seen this many rabbits or guinea pigs,” she said. “I have worked for SafeHaven for 12 years and we’ve never had a case like this before. We’re looking for volunteer help; we’re looking for help with bedding – the cozy den pine bedding; or rabbit food or guinea pig food; water bottles; and foster homes.”

Storm says about a dozen of the animals are pregnant, and the humane society is discussing the possibilities with a local veterinarian of spaying and neutering the other animals.

For now, staff and volunteers are focusing on providing the best possible care for the animals, while trying to find them new homes.

“We’re really happy we were able to help APD in a case like this because otherwise I’m not sure where these rabbits and guinea pigs would have ended up,” Storm said.

Guinea pigs and rabbits are $10 each. For more information about SafeHaven’s location and hours, click here.

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EUGENE, Ore. — Summer at the Boys & Girls Club of Emerald Valley is a very busy time, and the need for mentors is growing.

This week we introduce you to a match made stronger through athletics, and a young boy just hoping a mentor will make his life’s storyline a little better.

Former University of Oregon football player, Alejandro Maldonado, has traded in football for some little friends. He’s been mentoring at the Boys & Girls Club for some time.

“I feel like we are good role models for them, and that is what we want to implement to them how to build character and be a wise person,” said Maldonado.

He’s helping Trevin McFarland build character as his mentor.

“I just like to play in the gym go out to the park and hang out with Alejandro,” said Trevin.

Another thing Maldonado can help Trevin with is problems at school.

“Sometimes there are mentees with situations. And they will come up to us and approach it, you know, they want to talk about family issues or certain situations that happen at school,” said Maldonado.

There aren’t enough Alejandro Maldonados to go around right now, as 30 children wait for their own mentor. One of them is 5th grader, Jackson Vaughn, who loves to read, play soccer, and video games.

Jackson says he’d like a mentor because he gets lonely sometimes, and also needs help with bullies at school.

If you’d like to help Jackson, click here to volunteer your time.

fire1ALBANY, Ore. — The Albany Fire Department says one man lost his life during an apartment fire Wednesday morning, but the department is still looking for the victim’s family to notify them.

Wanda Omdahl, Albany Fire Department spokesperson, says 64-year-old John Charles Walley died during the fire.

Crews responded to the fire at 417 6th Ave. SE at 6:41 a.m. Wednesday, and say all other residents made it out safely.

Omdahl says Walley lived alone, and the fire started in his apartment. However, because the fire created so much damage, Walley’s apartment is so burned that firefighters do not think they will ever know how it started. They do not believe there was anything suspicious about the fire.

The fire department still has not been able to track down anyone in Walley’s family. If you know anyone in his family, contact Albany Fire at: (541) 917-7700.

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EUGENE, Ore. — The Eugene Marathon is just three days away and organizers are starting to feel the pressure.

They want to make sure things go as smoothly as possible this Sunday.

This time last week, the Eugene Marathon was calling all volunteers. Now preparations were well under way for the Eugene Marathon’s eighth year.

“Thursday is a really busy day. Basically, when we’re setting up, we’re unloading from our storage unit setting up here at Matthew Knight Arena for the expo and also getting the festival area over at Hayward Field set,” said Tate Kelly, event coordinator.

This is actually the first time the event is being held at Matt Knight. This year is all about new, not only a new expo venue but also new partnership and new date.

“That was all by design. We’re hoping to combine such an amazing event at Hayward Field with the IAAF World Championships and the more than 200 countries there and try to connect the world of road runners and track and field,” said Courtney Heily, event coordinator.

The changes have put a few bumps in the road. For example, getting volunteers hasn’t been easy, but organizers think that’s just a result of the date change rather than lack of interest.

“We draw so much of our volunteers from local high schools and teams and also University of Oregon students, so it’s been really different,” Tate said.

And while the total number of runners is down by about a third, the number of national and international participants have about doubled. And with close to 6,000 people still on track to take part, their biggest concern is making sure things run smoothly.

It’s not to late to sign-up to run or volunteer. You can do so at the expo Friday. Click here for more information.

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EUGENE, Ore. — Tired of the deer munching on your hard work in the garden?

Well, there are some plants that can survive a close encounter with wildlife.

For herb lovers, there’s rosemary and lavender. And for folks that like those bright summer colors, try echinacea, rudbeckia and gaillardia.

Some people like to have something a little more intricate, like clematis and wisteria, which are great for vining. They both really nice show piece plants for your yard.

Deer also like shrubs. So some deer-resistant choices might be Mexican orange, viburnums, rock rose and dogwoods.

If you want some real show-stoppers, try the black lace elderberry or the crocosmia, which is just getting ready to go into bloom. It’s great for hummingbirds because of its vibrant red flowers. And finally, you could plant pineapple guava, a little flair of the tropical for your yard.

Now remember, nothing is 100 percent deer-proof. It just depends on how hungry the deer are in your neighborhood.

mill fireSPRINGFIELD, Ore. — New information is surfacing about the fallout caused by the fire at the Swanson Group’s Springfield Plywood & Veneer mill.

Not only did the fire destroy the mill, and force 250 people out of work, it also had an impact on the local environment.

The Lane Regional Air Protection Agency released a report Thursday that possible debris from the fire tested positive for containing asbestos. Further testing will be done to confirm the results at an accredited lab. LRAPA says asbestos can be harmful when airborne, and is asking anyone who sees possible fire debris to leave it alone.

“If you see fire debris on your property that is white, beige, or gray in color, and is felt-like in appearance, please do not disturb the material,” said Jo Niehaus, a spokesperson for LRAPA. “As long as the debris is solid and undisturbed, it will reduce risk of possible fibers becoming airborne.”

LRAPA would like anyone who believes they have debris on their property to call their office at 541-736-1056. The agency says it’s working with the Swanson Group to investigate all possible cases of debris.

Meanwhile, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed Thursday, the fire is the likely cause for a fish die-off discovered in the Willamette River.

Water samples collected at the time of the fire found high pH levels near the mill and just downstream. Investigators say it’s also likely the fire raised water temperatures enough to kill the fish.

ODFW says 90 percent of the fish that died were native species.

The advisory issued when the fish kill was discovered was lifted Sunday. Other tests showed there was no threat to public health in the water.

research mapEUGENE, Ore. — Here’s something to check out if you’re headed to Hayward Field. One of the free exhibits at the IAAF World Junior Track and Field Championships is a giant touch screen interactive map of the world.

The map shows parts of the world where University of Oregon researchers are doing work.

The goal is to raise awareness that there is academic excellence of global impact attached to the track.

“Being able to then deliver it to the public definitely gives a huge sense of civic pride and accomplishment. We hope that all the delegations, over 160-plus delegations here today will take some time to take a look at their own country,” said Chakris Kussalanant, Director of Marketing and Communications at the UO Office of International Affairs.

A team of 50 people has been working one year on the map, gathering video and images before programming it.

medalsEUGENE, Ore. — The World Junior Track and Field Championships continue this week.

On Thursday, there are nine finals and seven medals ceremonies planned.

The medals were designed by Tyler James.

The gold, silver and bronze medals weigh almost two pounds and feature a design that includes wood.

James says it features the iconic Hayward Field itself, the tradition of Track Town and the University of Oregon and trees in the background speaks to Oregon being a timber state.

“As people come here and experience the environment that we take for granted every day and they go back to wherever in Africa or in Europe, and they have the remembrance of where the event was and what our environment’s about,” James said.

ALLARD BROTHERSEUGENE, Ore. — Two well-known brothers from Eugene, who fled to Colorado while being investigated for child sex abuse crimes will be headed back to Oregon soon.

Colorado officials have received the warrants for Jacky and Jody Allard. They’re now waiting for Oregon officials to transport them back to Oregon to face charges of encouraging child sex abuse. They were arrested in Colorado in May.

Jody Allard taught at Shasta Middle School. Both coached in the Willamette Valley Babe Ruth baseball league.

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