A veritable menagerie of exotic animals, including alligators, tortoises, and snakes, was rescued Thursday from a squalid home in upper Montgomery County, officials said.
And the couple who allegedly hoarded the animals had been sought Monday in connection with another cache of pets in nearby Macungie, Lehigh County, where authorities rescued 100 pigs, birds, and dogs after neighbors complained of constant barking from inside the home.
Authorities did not release the couple's names, but Hal Warner, the chief executive of the Lehigh County Humane Society, said animal-cruelty charges have been filed against them in his jurisdiction, and an arrest is pending.
His counterparts in Montgomery County plan to file similar charges against the couple, who rented both spaces from the buildings' owners.
"This is by far the worst case I've ever seen," Warner said Thursday, hours after a search warrant was served on the couple's home in Montgomery County.
The house on Station Road in Upper Hanover Township, about an hour north of Philadelphia, was searched by state troopers working with the Montgomery County Society for Protection of Animals. They were led there by information received during the investigation in Macungie, where Warner said neighbors told investigators the couple had brought a moving truck to the property the night before the raid.
Inside, investigators found an oppressive odor of urine and feces, according to Robin Royer, the zoning officer and code official for Upper Hanover. Dozens of animals were sequestered in filthy conditions, including cages filled with ferrets and plastic storage bins brimming with turtles.
Other reptiles roamed freely throughout the home, including at least 100 snakes, Royer said. Some of the animals in the house were dead, others severely ill. There was no furniture inside, only the various creatures.
It appeared, she said, that the tenants only visited the house sporadically, likely to give the animals food and water.
"The house just stank," she said. "In order for someone to inhabit that property in the future, it will have to be washed out with bleach."
Royer said Thursday's visit wasn't the first time township officials had been called to the property.
In February, neighbors complained of "malnourished, mistreated, and running dogs" at the house, which at the time was occupied by a different tenant, according to Royer. No further complaints were made, and the home's owner was never cited.
Property records show that the house is owned by Luanne DeWolf, a resident of Mertztown, Berks County. DeWolf could not be reached for comment.
The animals recovered from the house were taken to the county SPCA's shelter in Perkiomenville, where they'll undergo medical evaluations.
Meanwhile, Warner said the animals rescued from the Macungie house had all found new homes.