MOTTVILLE TOWNSHIP — It’s the kind of thing you had to see to believe.
“Basically, we got called out on a complaint to this residence about a week ago when someone had stated they had possibly seen some kangaroos,” said Gregory Musser, the Animal Control supervisor with the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s department.
As strange as that sounded at first, it wasn’t that far off.
“This is a call we had never received before, so it started off as kind of a joke,” Musser said. “But basically, our investigation led us to a very serious situation.”
Sheriff deputies found more than 20 different animals in the house.
There were wallabies, including a rare albino wallaby, flying squirrels and a monkey.
“Upon entry, it was a very horrific scene,” Musser said. “The smells were unbearable.”
The two tenants were arrested on felony charges of animal cruelty and owning exotic animals without a permit. They’re also facing up to 20 misdemeanor charges.
They told authorities the animals came from a pet store they had that had closed, and they wanted to keep the animals as pets.
A sign for “Downunder Reef Pet Shop and Supplies,” from an old pet sore in Granger, was in their backyard.
For neighbors around here, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise.
“I was in there one time,” said Josh Shook, a neighbor. “It was probably the first year they lived here. They had a giant cat, I think it was either from Africa or India.”
Now the goal is to find a safe place for all these animals.
“We have contacted Binder Park Zoo, and they’ll be down to get a lot of the exotic animals taken out of here and taken back to their zoo so they can be properly cared for,” Musser said.
For right now, the exotic animals are still in the house and the sheriff’s department is watching over them until the zoo can collect them at some point tomorrow.
The good news is that authorities say it appears that most of the animals are in okay shape, though they were living in filthy conditions. But authorities say the monkey could be carrying diseases.