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TEXARKANA -- A Miller County woman has been charged with 16 counts of animal cruelty after hundreds of exotic animals, including snakes and lizards, were taken from her home.

Franziska Santifer, 29, is to appear in court June 10, said Miller County Chief Deputy Mark Lewis.

The smell of ammonia was so strong in the home that volunteer rescuers had to wear respirators to enter the premises, according to an affidavit for the search warrant. Several dead snakes and one dead kitten were found in a freezer. More dead snakes were found inside containers, according to the affidavit.

Sheriff's deputies had received calls from residents about the animals, and investigators served a search warrant April 9 at the home in the 10700 block of U.S. 82, Lewis said.

The volunteers took the lead in removing the animals from the home and taking care of them, Lewis said.

About 260 rats were seized along with 10 pythons, several other snakes, a bearded dragon, a gecko, four hamsters, two rabbits, a ferret and several birds. Six dogs, two puppies and a kitten were among the animals seized from the home.

The majority of the animals were living in their own feces and urine, according to the affidavit.

One of the volunteers opened a container with a snake inside it.

"Immediately my breath was taken away by the strong odor of ammonia emitted from the plastic container," a deputy wrote in his report.

All of the snake containers were covered in feces and shed skin, according to the affidavit.

The puppy pen also was covered in feces and urine and there was limited clean water and food, according to the affidavit.

Elyssa Teel with Ark-La-Tex Animal Rescue said foster homes have been found for all of the exotic animals. A 6-year-old Doberman still needs a foster home.

State Desk on 04/20/2019

Print Headline: Exotic pets removed from filthy residence

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