A volunteer animal rescuer who stockpiled hundreds of dead birds and other animals in her mother’s Little Silver home was sentenced to five years probation, the Monmouth County Prosecutor announced Friday.
Gretchen Rell, 56, an Ocean Township resident, had previously admitted to neglecting the birds and being responsible for their deaths.
The sentence concludes a bizarre case that began in March, when authorities, acting on complaints by neighbors, entered the home of Rell’s 95-year-old mother, Marie, on Mitchell Place in Little Silver.
There, they found more than 300 dead birds and other animals in cages “stacked from floor to ceiling, five feet high,” Monmouth County SPCA Chief Law Enforcement Officer Victor “Buddy” Amato told the Asbury Park Press at the time.
Among the finds were various types of birds, turtles, rabbits, mice, opossums, and other mammals that could not be identified due to the extent of decomposition, authorities said.
Rell, a wildlife coordinator at the Monmouth County SPCA since 1992, was reported to live part-time at the address.
At the time of her guilty plea in July, Rell’s attorney told the court that she “just got completely overwhelmed” taking care of her elderly mother, and neglected the birds.
From the prosecutor’s office press release Friday:
Gretchen Rell, 56, now of Unami Avenue in the Wanamassa section of Ocean Township, must meet all the requirements of her probationary term as part of her sentence, as set down by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge John R. Tassini, J.S.C. Those requirements include: complying with recommendations of a psychiatric evaluation, and she must make available her medical, psychiatric and psychological records to authorities to ensure her compliance with the above. Rell must also complete 30 days of community service, she is prohibited from owning, residing with, or taking into her care or custody any animals during her probationary term, while also being barred from having any contact with the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. A violation of any of the requirements of the probationary term could result in up to a five-year prison term.