Officials in Louisiana made a startling discovery on Friday, finding approximately two thousand animals, the majority in poor condition, living at a home in Lawtell just west of Baton Rouge. The owner, 64-year-old Donald Lefleur, was arrested and charged with animal cruelty.
"(There were) dogs, cats, geese, chickens, pheasants, a little bit of everything. Also, snakes.” said St. Landry Parish Director of Administration, Jessie Bellard.
Rabbits, peacocks, and turtles were also rescued. The stench alone could be smelled from the road. Tipped off from a caller out of New Orleans, Bellard said he immediately obtained a warrant after visiting the house and seeing the conditions inside.
"The smell was horrendous,” said Bellard. “The chickens were in some little crates and they lived in faeces until it built up so much they could jump out of the crate."
Bellard says around 100 chickens were roaming inside and 20 dogs were living in crates, some so small they could barely move. It took most of the day for crews to find and collect all the animals. Also found around the property, rotting carcasses and chickens eating other chickens.
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But what Bellard found most shocking was Lefleur's reaction to the seizure.
"He was very surprised that we were going to take his animals,” said Bellard. “He didn't think he did anything wrong."
Some animals are in such bad shape, they'll have to be euthanized. But there is hope for others - albeit a long road to recovery.
“The employees are going to have to make sure all animals are accounted for and documented and the veterinarians are going to be looking at the 4-legged animals,” said Bellard.
Once they are treated and deemed healthy, they'll be up for adoption or a foster home.