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Hundreds of chickens, birds removed from home in Weiser

Authorities found many of the animals living in cages, while others roamed in and outside the residence.

WEISER, Idaho — The Washington County Sheriff’s Office confirms that it is investigating a possible case of animal hoarding in Weiser where hundreds of chickens and birds were removed from the home.

Sharla Vaughan-Hein owns the property near Mann Creek and says was out in the area on Sunday to check on some goats when she went by a house she owns. The tenant was not home, and Vaughan-Hein says after seeing hundreds of chickens and other birds outside locked up in the 100-degree heat with no water, she contacted the sheriff’s office for help.

Sgt. Brady Johnston says they were able to get a search warrant to check on more animals inside the home. There were cages filled with cats and chickens, as well as dogs, cats and chickens on the loose in the house. There was also feces and urine all over, according to Vaughan-Hein.

It appears three women who live there had been out of town since Saturday morning. They returned Sunday evening.

The sheriff’s office reached out for help from the Idaho Humane Society and the Idaho Department of Agriculture, local fire department and paramedics.

Johnston said he had never seen a hoarding case to this extent before. They spent the past two days trying to round up all the animals.

He believes the residents were trying to start a hatchery and got overwhelmed by their situation. There were eggs, chicks and chickens of all different sizes, in and outside of the home.

“We need to remove the animals from their current situation,” Johnston said.

The animals are being put in the care of the Idaho Humane Society. They include dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, guinea hens, parakeets and other birds.

Kristine Schellhaas with the Idaho Humane Society was able to give us some preliminary numbers of the animals rescued. So far, they've counted a total of 247 chickens, 21 ducks, 8 parakeets, 8 guinea hens, 1 robin and 1 starling. They were also 3 dogs and 15 cats taken from the home.

"We've never taken this many birds before," she said. Some of the birds are pretty sick and can't be saved. Others will be adopted out. Fifty chicks already have new homes.

Meanwhile, Johnston says the investigation is ongoing and the owners could face animal cruelty or other charges. There are three women that live in the home and due to the deplorable living conditions, a report has been filed with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Vaughan-Hein says she plans to file an eviction notice with the tenant as soon her lawyer can draw up the paperwork.

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