Police in Montclair stumbled across a trash-strewn industrial building crammed with more than 1,000 snakes, parrots, chickens and other animals — many of them dead — when they arrived to serve an arrest warrant on a man who rented the property.
The surviving animals were being examined and sheltered Friday by the Inland Valley Humane Society and SPCA.
Police originally arrived at the industrial building to make an arrest unrelated to the animals. They had asked humane society workers to accompany them to care for the man's two dogs while he was in custody.
But when they got there, humane society operations manager James Edward said Friday, they immediately became suspicious that other animals were inside.
A search warrant was served and authorities entered to find more than a thousand chickens, baby chicks, parakeets, parrots, love birds, snakes and fish.
"Unfortunately there were numerous deceased chickens and snakes," Edward said, adding conditions were deplorable.
Trash and debris were strewn everywhere, he said, and fish were swimming in tanks so filthy it was impossible to identify them. Snakes were locked in boxes without food or water. The building, itself, reeked of ammonia.
"It was definitely uninhabitable for animals or people," Edward said.
Police did not immediately release the arrested man's name, and Edward said authorities didn't know why the animals were kept there.