Dozens of exotic birds, 20 cats and at least one dog were found during an eviction on West Jericho Turnpike, Huntington Town officials said Wednesday.
Sisters Muriel and Doreen Gluck, aged 63 and 56 respectively, watched for several hours as masked workers from multiple agencies carried birds wrapped in towels out of their former home and into a large bus operated by the Suffolk County SPCA.
The sisters acknowledged problems with the premises but said they have found a new home to share with the animals. Their home had been sold; and the sisters were hoping for more time before they moved upstate with the pets.
"We're not sure the owners will get the animals back," said Paul Llobell, a detective with the Suffolk County SPCA. "They're being evaluated by the veterinarians and the vet techs. The living conditions were quite deplorable, and at this point, we haven't made a decision."
The outcome of the animal evaluations scheduled for late Wednesday will determine whether the women face charges, Llobell said.
Suffolk County Sheriff's Office deputies and the animal control division of the town's Office of Public Safety arrived at 391 W. Jericho Tpke. in West Hills to carry out an eviction about 7 a.m., said Deputy Sheriff Lt. Chris Guercio.
Officials found dozens of animals and a hoarding situation, said A.J. Carter, a town spokesman.
In interviews Wednesday in a moving van outside their former home, the sisters said they grew up in the house, which their parents bought in 1960 and operated as an army-navy surplus store. In 1976, they started rescuing and adopting animals.
"We didn't go to find these animals, these animals found us," Muriel Gluck said. "They adopted us, and we couldn't turn our backs on them."
After their parents died in the early 2000s, a series of personal and financial challenges left them bankrupt and unable to keep the house, the sisters said.
Harold Somer, an attorney for Joseph Rafael LLC, the entity that owns the property, said his client declined to comment.
"It's embarrassing, it's humiliating," said Muriel Gluck. "But every one of those birds has a name and a heart. . . They are all healthy. The condition of the bird room is one that we are not proud of. It got out of hand."
Gerald Mosca, the town's animal control shelter supervisor, said upward of 100 exotic birds were found on three floors in the house and store. Officials also found the cats inside and a cat kennel in the garage. One dog, a Boston terrier, was taken to a veterinarian.>Mosca said rescue groups are temporarily housing the cats.