At first, Janine Guido had no words for what she saw on hell’s half-acre.
“It left me speechless,” she recalled. “I can’t describe how upsetting it was.”
As president and founder of Speranza Animal Rescue in Monroe Township, she received an emergency call around 4:30 p.m. June 4 from state troopers investigating a half-acre property on Sandbank Road in Southampton Township.
“I drove out there within 45 minutes,” Guido said. “The police were walking around. I was walking around with them. It was just a mess. It was pure hell.”
Here and there were dead farm animals co-mingled and crammed together, with hundreds of survivors clinging to life. The water that was provided was chocked with algae or contaminated by feces and decaying birds.
Livestock was kept in pens without grass, hay or sanitation, Guido said. “There was just poop — a couple feet worth. They were laying in it.”
Rabbits and birds were crowded into cages and crates, she said. “They had no food or water for at least 24 hours. Some of them had gotten trampled and suffocated.”
And that was just what she witnessed. She didn’t accompany the police officers in their walk-through around the rear of the property.
Overall, 404 animals were rescued from the crime scene and surrendered to Speranza. State troopers have arrested and charged Barry Lee Orndorff, 64, of Shippensburg with 450 counts of felony and misdemeanor animal cruelty charges. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Monday.
Police accuse Orndorff of failing to provide necessary sustenance, potable water, clean and sanitary shelter and necessary veterinary care for a number of animals, including one horse, about 40 sheep, 20 goats, 40 ducklings, 40 assorted birds and 10 rabbits.
Of the rescued animals, about 75 to 100 birds have been placed with volunteers and other rescue organizations, Guido said. Placements have since stopped because the remaining animals are sick and under quarantine pending the results of medical tests, she said.
“All of them were in horrific shape,” she said. “We have lost some already.”
Since the weekend, a rabbit, a duck, two goats, three sheep and 10 to 15 birds have died. Guido is convinced that all their ailments were caused by poor living conditions on the half-acre property that she described as more residential than agricultural.
The horse was emaciated and crippled due to an old leg injury, she said. “We have him on really strong pain meds. All the goats and sheep have upper respiratory infections. Some have pneumonia. Some have an oral disease.”
She said the birds from the property included chickens, ducks, geese, quail and turkey. Guido heard from a source that Orndorff may have purchased the livestock at auction for resell as meat. The rabbits, sheep and goats had tags on their ears, she said.
State troopers found a dog in the house that stands on the half-acre property. “I met the dog,” Guido said. “It looked healthy and happy. It was well taken care of.
“With all the support that we are receiving, it has definitely restored our faith in humanity,” she said. “The community has been absolutely wonderful. We really appreciate the support.”
For now, Speranza Animal Rescue could use donations of either money or food. Typically, the organization spends about $2,000 a week on food to keep 50 dogs and other animals housed on its Monroe Township property.
With the influx of animals rescued last weekend, the weekly food bill has increased to $7,000 to $8,000, Guido said. Bedding for the animals also costs money, she said.
“We don’t know how long we will have them,” Guido said. To make a donation, visit the website at www.speranzarescue.org.
Email Joseph Cress at email@example.com.