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. Storm asks that anyone wishing to adopt brings along a carrier of some sort to take the animal home.