NEVADA COUNTY -- The Nevada County Sheriff's Office said hundreds of animals were found dead or neglected at a business in Rough and Ready.
Animal Control checked on the business, Simply Country, after a piglet purchased there was found to have an untreated injury. Investigators say there was a "large number of animals in distress" at the business.
Officials seized 360 live birds and took nearly 60 dead birds as evidence. The live birds are being treated for starvation and tested for disease at the Animal Place in Grass Valley.
"Vet confirms starvation, some were in the process of dying and those birds did have to be euthanized on site," Animal Control Officer Stefanie Geckler said.
Dozens of pigs were also seized. One of them had to have its ears amputated after Simply Country staff said other pigs in its pen were chewing on them.
"Both ears needed to have amputations and she's had follow up care every other day," Geckler said.
Criminal charges were expected to be filed with the Nevada County District Attorney, the sheriff's office said.
Curt and Nic Chittock, the father and son who own Simply Country, insist they voluntarily gave the county custody of the animals and are cooperating with the investigation. They're issue, they say, is the county's assessment after two recent visits from Animal Control.
"And both times they said everything is fine, there's no problem," Curt Chittock said.
But Geckler says Animal Control did not inspect the birds on previous visits. It was the conditions in a back building not open to the public that convinced officers the animals needed to be taken away.
"We did find piles of deceased birds with some birds in various stages of dying on top of them, so it was a pretty bad scene," Geckler said.
Animal Control is filing charges against the business.
"Down the road if there's a conviction, then they won't be allowed to harbor or maintain animals," Geckler said.