By Richard Gould
Bent, faded and rusty birdcages lay strewn across the yard. An empty building that looks like a homemade greenhouse shrouded in gray plastic sits beside the house.
When the greenhouse door is opened, the oppressive odor of years of accumulated excrement and waste rushes out on a warm breeze. Feathers, empty cages and mounds of waste are all that was left behind by the scores of sickly birds that were once housed in the structure.
On Dec. 16 four law enforcement agencies seized every animal from this Newton home — 142 birds and 44 dogs. The majority of the animals are being held in the Catawba County Animal Shelter.
Their owner, Joyce C. Jarrett, 66, was charged with animal cruelty.
Tuesday, District Court Judge Sherri Elliott deferred prosecution and ordered that, "The animals seized pursuant to court order are to be adopted out by Animal Services of Catawba County."
Veterinarians are evaluating the dogs and birds to determine whether they are suitable for adoption by members of the general public or whether they will require special care.
The birds range in size from parakeets to Amazon parrots. The dogs are small breeds — mainly chihuahuas and dachshunds.
Many of the birds may not be adoptable. Some are stressed, injured, or malnourished. Others have infections that may require expensive veterinary care.
"The average citizen does not know how to care for exotic birds," said Catawba County Animal Services Manager Jay Blatche.
"We'll be contacting some of the zoos in this state and other states," he said. "Exotic bird rescue groups and possibly foster rescue groups may take in some of the birds."
The dogs have a better chance of being adopted.
"Some are adoptable – some are not," Blatche said. "Some were sick. Some are pregnant."
Jarrett was sentenced to 12 months of supervised probation and has been ordered to get mental health counseling.
She is allowed to have two dogs and two cats. All four must be spayed or neutered, according to the judge's order..." More
Photo by: Robert C. Reed