Pair charged with an­i­mal cru­elty

The Boyertown Area Times - - FRONT PAGE - Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

A man and woman have been charged af­ter au­thor­i­ties con­fis­cated over 250 an­i­mals from their Up­per Hanover home, some of which were en­dan­gered species.

Montgomery County Dis­trict At­tor­ney Kevin R. Steele and Pennsylvania State Po­lice Troop K, Skip­pack Sta­tion an­nounced the ar­rests of Me­lanie Rehrig, 33, and Ja­son Wieder, 39, of 1131 Sta­tion Road in Palm, on mul­ti­ple felony and mis­de­meanor charges re­lated to the 258 ex­otic an­i­mals seized from their homes.

On Oct. 16, 2018, a Hu­mane Society po­lice of­fi­cer re­ceived a call about an an­i­mal cru­elty in­ves­ti­ga­tion in Lehigh County in­volv­ing the pair, dur­ing which it was dis­cov­ered that the de­fen­dants were mov­ing an­i­mals

to an Up­per Hanover home.

A search war­rant was ex­e­cuted on the home on Oct. 18, 2018. Many types of an­i­mals — in­clud­ing al­li­ga­tors, tor­toises, tur­tles, snakes, frogs, skunks, guinea pigs and rats—were found be­ing kept in un­san­i­tary and un­safe con­di­tions, and 258 an­i­mals were seized, in­clud­ing two South­ern Leop­ard Frogs, an en­dan­gered species.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion was be­gun, and the an­i­mals were eval­u­ated by a vet­eri­nar­ian. Two snakes were found de­ceased and one had to be eu­th­a­nized due to the sever­ity of its con­di­tion. Two tor­toises and two guinea pigs were un­able to be saved due to ne­glect by the de­fen­dants. In ad­di­tional, many an­i­mals were suf­fer­ing from se­vere de­hy­dra­tion, and some an­i­mals had med­i­cal con­di­tions that re­quired vet­eri­nary care that was never per­formed.

Wieder and Rehrig were each charged with five counts of ag­gra­vated cru­elty to an­i­mals, 23 counts of ne­glect of an­i­mals, two counts of pos­ses­sion of threat­ened or en­dan­gered species with­out a per­mit, and 516 counts of ne­glect of an­i­mals for fail­ure to pro­vide nec­es­sary sus­te­nance and water, as well as clean and san­i­tary shel­ter.

Rehrig and Wieder were ar­raigned Nov. 26, be­fore Dis­trict Judge Mau­reen C. Cog­gins. Bail was set at $25,000 un­se­cured, and they were re­leased. Ad­di­tional bail con­di­tions in­cluded no an­i­mal pos­ses­sion, no an­i­mal own­er­ship and no in­ten­tional con­tact with an­i­mals. The orig­i­nal pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing date is be­ing resched­uled.

The pair were also charged in Lehigh County for sim­i­lar of­fenses. Lehigh County Dis­trict At­tor­ney Jim Martin an­nounced ear­lier this month that the pair were also fac­ing charges fol­low­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of a Ma­cungie res­i­dence in mid Oc­to­ber. In that in­stance, the po­lice had been called to in­ves­ti­gate a bark­ing dog com­plaint, but upon see­ing the con­di­tions of the res­i­dence and num­ber of an­i­mals liv­ing there, called the Lehigh County Hu­mane Society for as­sis­tance.

The an­i­mals found there in­cluded birds, snakes, rab­bits, frogs, pigs, mon­i­tor lizards, and dogs. Five an­i­mals were found dead at the site. Eighty-one were re­moved from the prop­erty be­cause of the un­san­i­tary con­di­tions and con­cern that the an­i­mals were in im­mi­nent risk of in­jury, ac­cord­ing to au­thor­i­ties.

In Montgomery County, the case will be pros­e­cuted by As­sis­tant Dis­trict At­tor- ney Lau­ren Marvel, who han­dles an­i­mal abuse cases and is part of the Fam­ily Pro­tec­tion Unit.

Me­lanie Rehrig, left, and Ja­son Wieder have been charged with an­i­mal cru­elty for ne­glect and death of ex­otic an­i­mals in Up­per Hanover Town­ship.

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