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300 Dead Birds, Animals Found in SPCA Volunteer’s Home

A volunteer for the Monmouth County SPCA faces animal cruelty charges after 300 dead birds and animals were found in her Little Silver home.


Pigeons were one of the types of birds found dead in the home of a Little Silver woman by the Monmouth County SPCA. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Gretchen Rell’s brother from out-of-town alerted police when he discovered the animals during a weekend visit according to

Monmouth County SPCA Chief Law Enforcement Officer Victor “Buddy” Amato tells “there’s boxes, piled on top of boxes, piled on top of boxes of dead animals,” including seagulls, pigeons as well as rabbits and other birds and mammals” in the Little Silver home Rell, 54 shares with her 95-year-old mother.

Another 60 dead animals were discovered in a second home in Ocean Township Rell owns with her husband.

The Asbury Park Press reports that Rell warned her mother to “never go into the basement” of the Little Silver home according to Amato, who describes the smell in the home’s basement and garage as “horrific.” The newspaper reports tax records indicate the home is valued at $900,000.

Rell’s role as a volunteer with the MSPCA was as a “sub-permittee” and picking up birds and transporting them to Toms River Avian Center.  She worked under the supervision of Don Bonica, who owns the Center and is licensed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife.  Bonica described Rell as “normal” and “caring” to “This is a horrible situation. I’m grasping as much as the next person as to what this is all about. I never in my wildest dreams think she had this,” he told the website.

Amato says many of the boxes found in Rell’s home were closed with MSPCA tags on them according to

Monmouth County SPCA President and CEO Jerry Rosenthal tells, “Often [hoarding cases] start with people with good intentions who become overwhelmed and don’t know how to ask for help. Our role is to enforce animal cruelty laws here in Monmouth County, regardless of who it is.”


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