Over 600 animals rescued from local home; owner charged

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animalsAKRON, Ohio -- Hundreds of animals are seized from a Northeast Ohio home and the owner is charged with animal cruelty. Rescue groups are also trying to find homes for them.

"Well, what he have here are almost 200 guinea pigs," explained Karen Hackenberry, executive of Pawsibilities Humane Society of Greater Akron.

That's in addition to 35 rabbits and other small animals and those are only the ones being held at the Humane Society.

"This is a big number. I will tell you that most of them went to rescue pretty immediately, but there were over 600 animals in the house," said Hackenberry.

Humane officers said they were called to a home on Archwood Avenue in Akron on August 26.

They said they discovered the more than 600 animals, including guinea pigs, rabbits and all types of birds.

"We got in roughly 40 to 50 of the smaller birds-- parakeets, finches, love birds. We also did bring in a large number of quail," said Connie Phillips, director of the Bird Nerds Rescue in Canton.

The Bird Nerds Rescue is one of the volunteer organizations that's helping care for the confiscated animals.  Phillips said it could be weeks or even years before they are psychologically suitable for adoption.

"It's sad that yet another case like this has happened and it's sad that these birds were put through what they were put through," she said.

The owner of the animals, Sebastian Smith III, 62, has been charged with four counts related to animal cruelty.  Akron Municipal Court records show he was sentenced to probation for another case of animal cruelty in 2000.

"Honestly, I did not know he had all the animals over there until they started bringing all the animals out," said neighbor, Kisha McKenzie.

McKenzie said she and her daughters have seen some of Smith's rabbits, but not much else.  His house has since been condemned.

"He actually cried. He actually was very hurt and bothered by them doing that," McKenzie said.

"We're looking forward to those guinea pigs and those rabbits going back into great homes," said Hackenberry.

Humane Society officials said Smith voluntarily released the animals into their custody.

He is due in Akron Municipal Court on Monday.

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