Home Police North Attleborough woman faces multiple charges of animal cruelty

North Attleborough woman faces multiple charges of animal cruelty

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Animal Control Officer Felicia Camara holds one of a dozen chickens removed from a home on Kelley Boulevard. The chickens, along with several rabbits, were found to be kept in inhumane conditions. Staff Photo/Max Bowen

By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

Following the discovery of chickens and rabbits in a setting described as “the epitome of animal cruelty,” Megan Simmons has been issued a court summons.

Simmons, of North Attleborough, was arraigned on March 9 in Attleboro District Court on 27 counts of animal cruelty, a felony. On a related note, she has a hearing with the Zoning Board of Appeals on March 15 for a special permit that would allow her to have a dog kennel with possible chickens and rabbits.

The animals were discovered in early January when the North Attleborough Fire Department did an inspection of the alarm systems of her mother in-law’s Kelley Boulevard home, where Megan has lived with her family since Dec. 23.

According to a police report, Animal Control Officer Felicia Camara responded to the scene and spoke with Megan, who said that they own four dogs, along with approximately 10 chickens and 15 show rabbits, which are similar to show dogs or horses. Town regulations only allow for six hens on a property, and no roosters. According to the report, the home is not zoned for chickens, rabbits, or kennels.

Camara and Megan conducted an inspection of the site, and found 12 chickens being kept in a 3 by 4-foot cage, with no heating device to keep it from freezing. There was also no outside area for the chickens to move about. Camara also observed fecal matter on the floor of the hutch that was several inches thick.

The hens were found to have scars on their faces from pecking one another and fecal matter on their feet, which can cause foot rot.

The environment was the epitome of animal cruelty,” said Camara.

The rabbits were being kept in an unfinished basement, and the report stated that the smell of urine was noticeable before officers even entered.

The officer’s eyes began to burn from the high concentration of ammonium emulating from the 20 rabbit cages,” the report stated. “The room had no natural light, no widows for fresh air, rabbit cages are stacked three high and five across the length of the wall, one rabbit per pen on the opposite wall. Directly across was three pens housing three more rabbits.”

While speaking to the owners, several rabbits began sneezing multiple times in a row. Camara examined a cage where a rabbit was sneezing, and noticed mucus coming from its nose and that it was breathing from its mouth—a sign of an upper respiratory infection. Seven of the rabbits turned out to have this infection, along with overgrown teeth. One of the cages was full of fecal matter and urine.

The owners both stated that this setup was only for a short period of time and that they would like to place the rabbits in the shed out back in the spring,” the report read.

The owners added that they had intended to start a breeding business, but at that time were “in over their heads” and needed help.

Seven of the rabbits and 12 of the chickens were signed over to Animal Control. They are being kept at the town’s animal shelter and are responding well to medical care. One of the rabbits had an infection in its eye, which had to be removed after several treatments proved unable to cure it.