A Venice woman is facing charges after investigators removed more than 30 neglected and malnourished animals from her home, according to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office.
Elaine Wells, 64, of Venice is charged with cruelty to animals, confinement of animals without sufficient food or water and prohibited cruelty to animals, all misdemeanors.
Deputies first went to Wells’ home in the 6600 block of Pineapple Place two days after her June 26 arrest on charges of DUI and driving while her licensed was suspended to retrieve her pets for safekeeping while she was in jail.
While there, Animal Services found 34 exotic birds flying free around the home, many of which were “underweight, suffered signs of self-mutilation and lacked access to food or water,” according to the sheriff’s office. An arrest affidavit noted Macaws, parrots and Cockatoos were found in the home.
Some of the birds lived under deteriorated kitchen cabinets, others in cages.
The home itself had dirt, debris, animal waste, flies, mosquitoes and roaches inside, according to the sheriff’s office.
A man approached deputies and said he was caring for the birds, even though he had not been asked to do so, when he realized Wells was in jail. When he went to the home, he found the birds without food and water, their bowls stacked in the kitchen, according to the affidavit. He tried to feed the birds, but there was not enough food in the home.
Animal Services seized all the birds along with a dog, a 15-year-old Boston terrier, and they will stay in the custody of the sheriff’s office pending a hearing this week, according to the sheriff’s office. A veterinarian whom deputies described as an avian specialist said Wells failed to provide adequate care for the birds and that it would be “impossible” for one person to care for the number, type and conditions of the birds in her home without staff and appropriate finances.
Wells later told investigators she was cleaning her birds’ cages when she left to get a pizza and was arrested. She said she had birds with “special needs” but none was on medications, according to the affidavit. She was aware of the birds’ self-mutilation but had done nothing to prevent it and was not cleaning up after the animals on a daily basis.
She said she “suffers from afflictions which have been preventing her from providing this care for prolonged periods of time,” according to the affidavit.