Police in Illinois made a gruesome discovery when they went to investigate a pet store that the owner had abandoned after the electricity was shut off — the bodies of 41 animals that had apparently been left to die in their cages with no food or water.
The incident happened in Macomb in the western part of the state, where police said they received a complaint about an overwhelming smell coming from Macomb Pet Land. They entered to find dozens of rabbits, hamsters, snakes, and mice that had died, the New York Post reported. The store’s owner, Jessica Spangler, told police that she arranged for another person to look after the animals after the store had been closed down, but police said this never happened.
The store had been shuttered for several weeks, with the local power authority turning off the electricity after the owner did not pay the bill. Police said there were 56 other animals in the store that they found alive, and they have now been placed in foster care.
Nearby business owners said there was a sign left on the door that the store was closed for maintenance and that animals were being fed and given water, the McDonough County Voice reported. But that did not appear to be the case.
Many of the surviving animals were taken to the McDonough County Animal Shelter, which provided an update to the community this week saying that no dogs or cats left in the store had died. The shelter also asked for donations of supplies and food to help take care of the large number of animals they had to take in.
“All animals have been placed in foster homes and are doing well. We would like to set some of the rumors to rest. There were no dogs/puppies living or deceased in the Pet Store,” the organization wrote on its Facebook page. “There were no deceased cats. The 2 cats that were in the store are alive and have been taken into custody of the MCAS and are doing great as well. This is a very upsetting situation for everyone and we understand the concern but we ask for continued patience. The Macomb Police Department has a press release with details scheduled for tomorrow at the normal time.”
Pet store owner Jessica Spangler has been arrested on charges of aggravated cruelty to animals. It was not immediately clear if she was in jail or if she was given bail.