Parakeets fly out of animal shelter

Animal-cruelty case against Eagle River men continues


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Bird lovers wasted no time rescuing more than two dozen parakeets seized last month from an Eagle River home.

People adopted 27 birds on Feb. 12, the first day the Anchorage Animal Care and Control Center made them available, said center spokeswoman Brooke Taylor.

The birds are among more than 40 parakeets and 39 dogs — many of them small breeds — seized in mid-January after authorities discovered them living in filthy conditions in a rented house on Hanson Drive.

Anchorage police arrested Daniel Hoffman, 51, and Lester Mendez, 46, on Jan. 14. Police and the homeowner said the men kept their pets in animal crates stacked one atop another, with feces covering the floors in several rooms.

Hoffman and Mendez last month made bail and remain out of custody. Prosecutors later charged each with 85 counts of animal cruelty, a misdemeanor.

The shelter was able to offer the parakeets for adoption because Hoffman and Mendez signed paperwork officially surrendering the birds, Taylor said on Monday, Feb. 13. But the men have not surrendered the dogs involved in the case, she said.

Animal Care plans to offer another nine birds for adoption this week once they undergo health checks.

Attorneys for both men could not be reached by press time. Rex Butler is representing Hoffman; Mendez is represented by Adam Bartlett.

The pair shared the rented single-family home with a three-car garage for the last five years with little notice, landlord Wayne Hanson said last month. Hanson said he learned about the situation in the home after the men wanted a broken pipe fixed. A maintenance worker smelled and saw all the animals inside and called authorities.

Anchorage police described the home’s condition as filthy with pathways leading through stacks of items, electric heaters the only source of heat and an “unusable” kitchen that contained a 25-gallon barrel filled with dog food. Little water appeared available to the dogs.

Hanson this week said the men had refused to remove their belongings from the home. At his request, an Anchorage judge issued a 24-hour eviction notice on Feb. 10, according to information from Hanson as well as a state courts database.

The landlord said he wanted the stuff out so crews could get to work cleaning up, work they started this week — wearing respirators.

Hanson said at one point, one of the men’s attorneys told him to stay out of the rental.

“Three inches of dog poop and I’m not allowed to go in my house,” he said.

Taylor couldn’t comment on the health of the remaining birds or the dogs rescued from the home. Prosecutors have instructed her not to disclose information relevant to the animal-cruelty case, she said.

The birds already adopted cost $5 each, and each adopter received a donated bag of parakeet food and a cage.

For more information on pet adoptions, go to www.muni.org/animal or call Customer Service at 343-8122.

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