Homeowners face over 100 animal cruelty,neglect charges
Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin announced Friday that two people have been charged with animal cruelty and neglect following investigations from early October.
Charged are Melanie Rehrig, 33, and Jason Wieder, 39, of 968 Hillcrest Drive South, Macungie.
On October 15, Barbara Morgan, Humane Police Officer for the Lehigh County Humane Society, was called to 968 Hillcrest Drive South. There she met Sgt. Travis Kocher and Cpl. Michael Mullen of the Macungie Police Department and Rehrig, who allowed them to enter the home.
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 house was deemed too hazardous to enter without breathing equipment. Upon examination of the house and property, Morgan reported finding animals living in filth and debris and suffering from neglect.
The animals found 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.
The animals were taken to the Humane Society for evaluation and care.
Based on the condition of the animals and the property found at 968 Hillcrest Drive South, authorities allege that Melanie Rehrig and Jason Wieder failed to provide care for the animals living at their residence which resulted in ill treatment and death.
Both Rehrig and Wieder are charged with five counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, a felony of the third degree; six counts of cruelty to animals, a misdemeanor of the second degree; six counts of neglect of animals, a misdemeanor of the third degree; and 86 counts of neglect of animals, a summary offense.
The District Attorney’s office noted that the misdemeanor charge of neglect of animals reflects the severity of neglect, which caused bodily injury to six of the animals at the Hillcrest Drive address.
Rehrig and Wieder will be arraigned later on Friday through Central Booking.