JUPITER, Fla. -- Authorities have confiscated a large menagerie of dogs, rabbits, ferrets and more than 100 birds from an elderly man’s home in Jupiter.
A Loxahatchee bird sanctuary volunteered to take in the feathered part of the collection that became overwhelming for the 84-year-old resident whose home was raided Wednesday, Walesky said. The other animals are in the custody of Animal Care and Control.
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Walesky said the situation at Thurman Tefft’s home in the 1000 block of Comanche Street was reported first on Feb. 7. A caller noted that dead rats were in the man’s garage, and that animals in the home were living in suspect conditions, Walesky said.
Officers tried to work with Tefft to clean the conditions and treat the health problems of various animals, but the man was not cooperating so the agency sought a warrant to go into the home Wednesday and remove the animals. The state’s Department of Children and Families had been alerted earlier to the living conditions and are involved is making sure Tefft is getting proper care and services, Walesky said.
“The conditions inside were horrid. There was an abundance f feces and urne in the house. The ventilation was not good. They (the animals) needed to be removed for their health,” Walesky said.”There were dead birds in cages with live birds, dead fish in wit lives ones.
“We don’t think there was intent there,” Walesky added. Had the conditions been intentional or result of deliberate neglect, the agency would consider it a criminal offense. Instead, the man appears to have been overwhelmed after the recent death of his wife and his son before that, Walesky said.
The agency’s focus now is on healing the animals and finding homes for them. The owner surrendered all the animals with the hope that eventually he could regain custody of one of the dogs, Walesky said.
Walesky’s biggest challenge was to find a home for 109 birds. Several rescue organizations offered to take some of the collection, but not all. That’s when the agency reached out to bird authority and veterinarian Dr. Susan Clubb, Walesky said.
Clubb’s Rainforest Bird Sanctuary in Loxahatchee took them all. Some need medical attention but she said the sanctuary is already fielding calls from would-be adoptive owners.
“I feel sorry for the gentleman who had them that he couldn’t take care of them anymore,” Clubb told our news partners WPTV News Channel 5.