Wayne County animal exhibitor faces additional animal cruelty charges
An ongoing investigation into a Wayne County organization has resulted in 9 additional counts of animal cruelty and neglect towards its founder.
The Humane Society of Greater Rochester says Sally Reaves kept animals in unsanitary and inhumane conditions at her World of Wildlife Encounters facility in Marion.
Since mid-March, humanitarian investigators, in a joint investigation with the USDA and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, have seized more than 1,400 animals from the property. – including pot-bellied pigs, rats, ferrets, rabbits, birds, mice, cats, dogs, degus, emus and a monitor lizard.
After the initial March 14 seizure, Reaves was charged with one count of failing to provide proper food and drink to the impounded animal.
The latest charges fall under the New York State Agriculture and Markets Act prohibiting “excessive driving, torture and injury to animals.” The law was written over a century ago when it applied to draft horses pulling carriages. But Reno DiDomenico, vice president of human law enforcement at Lollypop Farm, said the charges against Reaves were based on alleged negligence.
He said animals at the Reaves facility were denied basic needs such as proper shelter, food and water.
“There was no torture,” he explained. “It was a matter of care. Some of the charges involve birds, quail, which had droppings stuck to their feet due to not changing the birds’ habitat.”
DiDomenico described a pregnant belly pig as severely malnourished.
Reaves denies the charges, according to his attorney, Christine Cook. Cook said his client has been caring for animals and educating the public about them for decades. She said the allegations relate to a small fraction of the animals seized from the Wildlife Encounters facility.
Di Domenico disagrees. “We have 1,400 animals here that say differently,” DiDomenico said. “They say they’ve been neglected in one form or another.”
Cook told WXXI News that she receives daily mail in support of Reaves and her organization, but if the Humane Society is successful in her court case in Marion Town, they want to stop Reaves from owning more animals.
“We’re hoping we can get him to be pet-free for at least ten years,” DiDomenico said.
If convicted, Reaves could face a $1,000 fine and/or up to a year in prison on each count.
Reaves did not respond to a message left at the phone number listed for World of Wildlife Educational Encounters. Cook said she advised her client not to speak to the media.
Most of the seized animals are still in the custody of Lollypop Farm. Some exotic animals have been temporarily transferred to local zoos and other organizations.
DiDomenico said the Humane Society plans to recruit volunteers to help care for the animals at the Perinton shelter.
If Lollypop Farm gets legal custody of the animals, DiDomenico said some of them could be offered to the public for adoption.