More than two dozen chicks that were abandoned in a box outside a pet store on Friday are being cared for at a veterinarian's office in Valley Stream -- and the Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it is investigating.
"It's absolutely animal cruelty and it's abandonment," Det. Bob Sowers of the Nassau SPCA said Saturday. Pet owners "have an obligation to provide proper sustenance, and sustenance can mean a healthy, warm and safe environment."
Sowers said the SPCA is offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case.
The chicks, at maybe a few weeks old, were discovered Friday afternoon outside Petland Discounts in Hempstead, on Fulton Avenue. Quincy Mohammed, 25, an employee there, found them -- he said he opened the store's back door to empty out water from a mop bucket when he noticed what he described as a dingy, taped-up cardboard box sitting there.
"I thought it was an empty box, but then I saw it moving and I heard noise," Mohammed said Saturday. "I immediately put on my gloves and checked inside the box and saw the baby chicks."
With the help of an assistant manager, Mohammed brought the chicks into the bird room, which he said is kept warmer than the rest of the store. The chicks were cleaned up and given a new box and new bedding with hay, Mohammed said.
But the pet store wasn't able to keep them, so the 28 chicks were taken to Central Veterinary Associates in Valley Stream, where they are being cared for until permanent homes can be found for them.
"They're going to have to go to some sort of home somewhere that is able to house them," said Jennifer Emmerich, an associate veterinarian at CVA. "They're going to start growing pretty quickly."