41 animals found dead in Illinois pet store; owner faces felony cruelty charges

MACOMB, Ill. – A pet store owner accused of leaving dozens of her animals to die inside a store with no electricity faces felony animal cruelty charges, according to WQAD.

Police arrested 38-year-old Jessica Spangler, of Avon, Illinois. She's charged with aggravated cruelty to animals after an investigation revealed 41 animals died as a result of her neglect – primarily rodents, birds and reptiles.

Another 56 animals, including two cats, survived and have been fostered.

Jessica Spangler

Police said they found numerous dead and poorly cared for animals inside Macomb Pet Land while responding to complaints of a foul odor Saturday.

"Once officers entered the business they were overwhelmed by the smell of dead animals and ammonia," says Macomb Police Chief Curt Barker. Power had been shut off since May 14 because no one was paying the bills, authorities said.

During a press conference on Tuesday,  Chief Barker said Spangler claimed not to know that the animals weren't being cared for, and said she had arranged for someone to check on them.

Barker also urged people to have patience as the case goes forward, noting Spangler had become the target of social media threats.

"Justice will be done," he said. "Please be patient and let the process take place."

Spangler was booked into the McDonough County, where she was released on a $10,000 bond.

Police say more arrests are likely forthcoming.

"We heard the bird in there," said Bill Dunaway, whose business neighbors the pet store. "That's how we knew there were animals in there, but we had no idea there were that many."

He says he tried to help, and that more animals could have been saved if someone acted sooner.

"I was wondering why it took so long, honestly. Because I know we've been reporting. I know there's steps that need to be taken, but I wish someone would have gotten there sooner," Dunaway said.