Animal cruelty charge filed over live, dead snakes found in home

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A metro Grand Rapids man faces an animal cruelty charge after 27 animals, including snakes and spiders, were seized and several more snakes were found dead at his home.

The felony charge of abandoning or cruelty to 10 or more animals was filed against the 31-year-old Gaines Township man this week, court records show.

On Oct. 22, a Kent County sheriff’s deputy was called to the man’s home in the Southwood Village mobile home park, initially to deal with a child custody dispute. Once there, he found 27 live animals and 10 dead snakes in the home. He called in animal control.

27 animals, including snakes and spiders, seized from home

According to court records, the former fiancée of the 31-year-old man told investigators that he would buy and resell snakes, but that he stopped feeding his animals in June when they broke up.

“Since then, several reptiles have died due to (the 31-year-old) not taking care of them, letting them rot and decay,” a probable cause document filed with the court says.

Deputies seized all the animals. They included boa constructors, pythons, corn snakes, tree snakes, tarantulas and a tegu, which is a type of lizard native to Central and South America.

  • John Ball Zoo staff care for a snake seized from a metro Grand Rapids home. (Oct. 24. 2023)
    John Ball Zoo staff care for a snake seized from a metro Grand Rapids home. (Oct. 24. 2023)
  • John Ball Zoo staff performs a health assessment on a snake seized from a metro Grand Rapids home. (Courtesy John Ball Zoo)
    John Ball Zoo staff performs a health assessment on a snake seized from a metro Grand Rapids home. (Courtesy John Ball Zoo)
  • John Ball Zoo staff care for a snake seized from a metro Grand Rapids home. (Oct. 24. 2023)
    John Ball Zoo staff care for a snake seized from a metro Grand Rapids home. (Oct. 24. 2023)
  • John Ball Zoo staff care for a snake seized from a metro Grand Rapids home. (Oct. 24. 2023)
    John Ball Zoo staff care for a snake seized from a metro Grand Rapids home. (Oct. 24. 2023)

The animals were first taken to John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids to be checked out. The zoo is keeping one of them, an apricot Pacman frog native to South America. The rest went to N&N Exotic Reptile Rescue in Grand Rapids. One of the owners of the rescue told News 8 that some of the animals have already been adopted out. The others, she said, are doing well and gaining weight.

It’s unclear when the 31-year-old man will be arraigned. If convicted, he faces four years in prison, 500 hours of community service and/or a $5,000 fine.

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