MILLER PLACE, N.Y. - Close to 300 animals were carried out of a home in Miller Place in cages on Tuesday. They'd been living inside what officials are calling a house infested with cockroaches, mites, and lice.
"We have some cats in there but we have rabbits, lots of variations of birds, we've got tortoises, we've got snakes," said Jed Painter, the bureau chief of the Suffolk County District Attorney's Biological Environmental and Animal Safety Team.
"You have to wear personal protective equipment because the air is noxious, deep scent of ammonia," Painter said. "You've got situations where the cages are stacked so animals can urinate and defecate on animals below."
Authorities arrested Karin Keyes. Prosecutors said the 51-year-old licensed social worker got overwhelmed with animals in her care.
"You're going to have things like conjunctivitis, hair loss, urine stains, unhealed injuries, scars and spring," Painter said.
Officials said they were tipped off earlier this month after Keyes was away and she had her patients coming by to feed the animals.
"The caregivers tripped the fire alarm, brought fire department to the scene, led to fire marshal, led to building department, led to animal control, led to district attorney, led to ASPCA," Painter said.
Authorities rescued nearly 300 animals from a Long Island house that was infested with cockroaches, mites, and lice. (ASPCA)
Now ASPCA volunteers are helping with the investigation and treatment.
"We're just happy to come in and provide the support that the animals need," said Elizabeth Brandler of the ASPCA's Legal Advocacy and Investigations Division.
Keyes is charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty confinement and could face fines and jail time if convicted.
But those who know Keyes said the raid only tells half the story. They said their friend is gentle soul who had only the best intentions.
"When she found out an animal was sick or needed a home, she took it under her wing," her friend Danielle Ward said, "and it got out of control."
The animals will receive medical care and will be placed with rescue organizations and wildlife centers.