Case against pet show owner accused of animal cruelty still ongoing

·2 min read

Dec. 23—The local pet shop owner whose criminal case lies at the heart of today's animal rescue stories is still fighting his charges in court.

Timothy Charles Lorraine, 61, of Whitley City, is next scheduled to appear in Pulaski District Court for a pretrial conference on January 19.

Last summer, Lorraine pleaded not guilty to 19 counts of second-degree Cruelty to Animals after his store in Burnside was shut down by authorities.

The charges stem from an investigation dating back to April into Tim's Reptiles and Exotics. The store was located off South US 27 at the former Tri County Flea Market. According to the warrant served on Lorraine by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, the animals inside the shop were subjected to "cruel and injurious treatment through failure to provide adequate food, drink, space [and] health care."

During the September 1 execution of the search and seizure warrant, Burnside Police led the investigation assisted by Pulaski County Animal Control, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Special Investigation Unit, the Pulaski County Attorney's Office and the Somerset-Pulaski County Humane Society.

Due to the scale of the operation, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) — based in Washington, DC — was also enlisted by BPD to help rescue some 150 exotic animals that were in the shop when it was shut down. Of that number, Burnside Police Chief Mike Hill estimated that there were 80 animals — like snakes, lizards, turtles, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils — to process with the remainder being fish.

Chief Hill told the Commonwealth Journal that authorities were on scene for more than seven hours.

HSUS representatives said in a news release that the guinea pigs and several turtles were forced to share the same enclosure, which was covered in spider webs. The water in the fish tanks was murky, and most of the animals had no apparent access to food or clean water. Hamsters gnawed frantically on the wire siding of their makeshift enclosure, and some of the rabbits were found in barren cages with nowhere to find relief from the wire flooring.

The animals received initial veterinary exams on scene and were surrendered to Burnside Police Department before being placed with several organizations prepared to provide specialized care. According to HSUS, those organizations include Liberty Nature Center, Thoroughbred Exotics, Bourbon County Rescue, Paws 4 the Cause, Lexington Humane Society, Wildlife Matters Rehabilitation Haven and KY Fish and Tank Rescue.

Second-degree Cruelty to Animals is a Class A misdemeanor in Kentucky — punishable by 90 days to 12 months in jail as well as a fine of up to $500.

Lorraine was released after his arrest on a $2,500 cash/property bond.

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