WHEATON (CBS) — A man found with more than 300 birds and 150 dead ones in a garbage- and feces-filled house pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges on Monday and was sentenced to a year of probation.
David Skeberdis pleaded guilty to one count each of cruel treatment to animals, violation of animal owner’s duties, and companion animal hoarding, according to DuPage County State’s Attorney’s office spokesman Paul Darrah. All the charges were misdemeanors.
Judge Bruce sentenced Skeberdis, an Aurora resident, to 12 months of probation, 50 hours of community service, “counseling as deemed appropriate,” a $200 fine and a $100 anti-crime contribution, Darrah said.
He is also prohibited from owning any pets during his probation.
The charges were filed after authorities impounded more than 350 live parakeets, conures, finches, canaries, cockatoos and other birds from the home in October 2012.
Another 150 or more dead birds were also removed from the home, located in the 200 block of Shadybrook Lane, which the city declared uninhabitable.
Police initially went to the home when a painting contractor working on the outside of the townhouse noticed several dead birds inside. Aurora Animal Control and city inspectors started an investigation based on what they saw looking through the windows of the home.
They deemed the property unfit for habitation and obtained a search warrant because live bird sounds could still be heard coming from inside.
City workers were initially unable to remove the animals because of poor air quality in the home, police said. After air testing was done, Hazmat crews entered the home in white suits and protective face coverings.
Inside, they found the animals in a townhome littered with garbage, junk and bird feces.
Skeberdis, 58, cooperated with authorities and even brought food and water to the birds before they were removed. Police said it was unclear whether he was living in the home at the time or just tending to the animals.
The live birds were checked by a veterinarian and transferred to the Greater Chicago Caged Bird Club rescue group.
Skeberdis had initially pleaded not guilty, and even asked the judge to dismiss the charges, claiming his birds had been seized illegally. He claimed impoundment can only be ordered by the state Department of Agriculture, and not the city. The judge disagreed.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)