Animal abuse cases are unfortunately nothing new to the Mohawk Valley. This weekend, police in Herkimer County were faced with a type of cruelty they don't often see: Reptile abuse. Our Sarah Blazonis has more on how such abuse can be dealt with.
CENTRAL NEW YORK -- "They're very friendly, they're very personable, they're very easy to take care of," Carl Ackerbauer said while holding a bearded dragon, one of the lizards he sells at Ack's Exotic Pets in Cicero.
It's more of a description you'd expect to hear of a dog or cat than of a bearded dragon, but Ackerbauer says this guy is one of the more popular picks for people who come into his exotic pet store for just those reasons.
"I think a lot of the mentality for some people is, 'they're just reptiles.' And it's unfortunate that they get that label because they need love and attention just like any animal," he said.
A bearded dragon was among the dead reptiles Ilion Police recovered from Brian Higgins Jr.'s car Saturday night. Police say Higgins was moving and left them in the car for 26 hours without proper food or water.
"It breaks your heart because there are so many options out there that people could've helped him," Ackerbauer said.
Six other reptiles were in good condition and officials say they're in a safe place. Police say they don't often run into reptile abuse, so it's hard to say exactly where the animals would've been treated if they were ill. Ackerbauer says resources are available.
"There are rescues out there around here. I know a lady in Kirkville that does exotic animal rescue work," said Ackerbauer. "I take in animals all the time."
And for anyone thinking about making a reptile part of the family, research is a must.
"It's a lot of cage cleaning, daily cage cleaning," he said. "And when you have a lot of animals, 15 to 20 animals, and they're all eating crickets and all eating vegetables, it can add up in price."
For those who do become overwhelmed, he suggests turning to your local pet store or SPCA to find out if there's a business or agency that can take in and care for reptiles.