Nevada County authorities: Investigation continues into dead, sick birds
November 6, 2017
Officials say it could be days or weeks before necropsies reveal if any of the almost 60 dead birds seized from Simply Country were diseased.
Nevada County Animal Control on Thursday took around 360 live birds and 58 dead ones from the Harvest Lane business in Rough and Ready. The seizure, which stemmed from a tip about an injured piglet, has led local authorities to open an investigation that they say could lead to criminal charges from the District Attorney's Office.
Nic Chittock, general manager of the two Simply Country locations, said his business has been in operation for over 50 years and has never faced accusations of neglect. He said some people have blown the situation out of proportion.
Animal control officers and volunteers descended on Chittock's store after receiving a call about a piglet bought from his business, sheriff's Lt. Sam Brown said.
"The ears appeared to be either infected or rotting, so they took it to the vet for care," he added.
According to Brown, the piglet's ears required partial amputation. Supervisor of the sheriff's animal control operations, Brown had two officers respond to Chittock's store for a welfare check.
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"There were various birds showing signs of starvation — clearly underfed," he said.
Simply Country cooperated with authorities and worked with officers to remove the birds from the business, Brown said.
A majority of the living birds, mostly chickens but also some geese and a turkey, went to Animal Place, which is caring for the farm animals, said Kim Sturla, that organization's executive director.
Some 20 parakeets went to Sammie's Friends, which pays for all the animals' medical bills because of its contract with the county, said Cheryl Wicks, the group's founder.
"These animals are sick," Wicks said. "They need medical care."
The animals taken from the store remain in quarantine, Brown said.
Chittock disputed portions of the authorities' version of events. He said the piglet was separated from other pigs because they were mistreating it.
Chittock said the piglet, and the chickens taken from his store, were in the front part of his business. He has nothing to hide.
"For 53 years we've treated them pretty good, as we've had no incidents like this before," he said.
The dead birds, Chittock said, were taken from a mulch bin — an area where he properly disposes of their carcasses instead of burning them. He said authorities went through that bin to retrieve the dead birds.
Chittock said that sickness exists in livestock, and that the current backlash neglects to mention the thousands of chickens he's raised and sold.
"In my view, the views of others have blown this completely out of proportion," he said.
The District Attorney's Office will decide if any charges are filed in the case. There have been no arrests.
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.