By John Burton
FREEHOLD – An Ocean Township woman has been indicted for animal cruelty after police discovered a Little Silver home containing more than 300 dead animals.
A Monmouth County grand jury handed up the two-count indictment for third-degree animal cruelty on Monday against Gretchen Rell, 56, Unami Avenue, in the Wanamassa section of Ocean Township, for her alleged role in the death of the animals.
Police entered Rell’s mother’s home on Mitchell Place, Little Silver, on March 10 and found the carcasses of various types of birds, rabbits, turtles, mice, opossums and other mammals which could not be identified because of the extent of decomposition, according to Charles Webster, a spokesman for the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.
A joint investigation conducted by the Little Silver Police and investigators for the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals (SPCA) determined that Rell, while working as a volunteer for SPCA’s wildlife division, took in numerous animals for temporary rehabilitation. But, authorities charged, instead of caring for the animals, they died of starvation and dehydration.
Following the indictment, Rell was released in her own recognizance pending future court appearances. Superior Court Judge Anthony J. Mellaci imposed some restrictions on Rell’s release. Rell is prohibited from returning to the Monmouth County SPCA; she is not allowed to take in, care for or reside with any animals or creatures; and she must relinquish to the county SPCA any animals currently in her care, according to Webster.
Rell acknowledged to having 16 pigeons in her Wanamassa home, which were confiscated by the SPCA, Webster said.