There was only one bedroom in a San Diego man’s apartment — but he was sharing his space with more than 80 birds, most of them cockatiels that were fluttering freely around the home and leaving feces everywhere, according to rescuers.
The man called the San Diego Humane Society himself on Tuesday, hoping for help handling the overwhelming number of animals at his Rancho Bernardo home, Fox 5 San Diego reports.
“That’s why we’re here,” Sgt. Laurel Monreal told the TV station Wednesday, as rescuers wearing masks ferried bird after bird out of the filthy apartment. “We want people to be comfortable to contact us so that we can help them when they get into situations like this. I’m sure he did not intend to get into this situation. I’m not here to judge; I’m here to help.”
Humane Society workers caught the birds in nets, then put them into boxes and removed them from the apartment, NBC San Diego reports.
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Video from the scene, shared by the Humane Society, shows white birds in the home moving around behind a window screen. The footage also captures the chorus of chirping the birds created, which could be heard from outside the man’s home.
Rescuers described the scene inside the apartment, which was covered in feather dust and bird poop, as “unsanitary” for a person to live in.
Humane Society veterinarians examined each bird outside the apartment and then took them all to the group’s campus in San Diego, according to a news release. The medical team there will quarantine and carefully watch the birds to make sure they aren’t diseased.
Rescuers said the man originally had just a handful of birds — but when they started breeding their population exploded beyond what he could handle, Fox reports.
The San Diego Police Department’s psychiatric team took the man into custody to get him mental health resources, according to NBC.
The man was removed from the home in handcuffs, CBS 8 reports. The man’s neighbors “were not happy with what the man was doing inside his apartment,” describing him as “verbally aggressive” and his birds as “very loud,” according to the TV station.
Worried neighbors also reported the situation in the apartment to the Humane Society, Fox reports.
“It is extremely sad to see animals living like this, but we are glad we are able to get these birds the care they need,” Monreal said in a statement.
The Human Society described it as an open investigation, and said that “officers will continue to collect information before determining how to proceed.”
Late Wednesday afternoon, the Humane Society posted video on Twitter showing truck after truck of rescued birds arriving at the organization’s San Diego Campus.