As many as 200 animals, including dogs, cats, ferrets, chinchillas, turtles, lizards, exotic birds and rats, were found living in squalid conditions inside a Long Island home Tuesday.
Authorities responded to the Medford home and began removing the animals. The owner, according to Brookhaven town officials, is a woman in her 70s who started rescuing animals and couldn't keep up.
The woman told NBC 4 New York Wednesday, "People can say whatever they want. It doesn't have to be true."
She declined to comment further.
Officials told NBC 4 New York that about 60 cats and 25 dogs were among those have been found roaming the house.
Officials found two cats eating a dead cat, and feces littering the home. Some of the animals weren't being fed regularly but otherwise seemed OK, officials said.
"They're happy, they're not nasty," said Maureen Schneider, director of the Brookhaven Animal Shelter. "Some of them are a little malnourished."
As rescuers removed animals from the home, they wore suits because the conditions inside were so bad. They took frequent breaks because of the overwhelming odor, and the Medford Fire Department was called at one point to help vent the home and make conditions safer for rescuers.
Neighbors said they knew the homeowner kept animals there, but never suspected the extent of the zoo inside.
"My husband used to walk the dog and hear the birds and saw the cats in the windows," said neighbor Doris Weiss.
Seventy-one of the animals were taken in by the STAR Foundation, an animal rescue group.
"Many of them have upper respiratory infections, probably due to the bad air quality in the house. They have internal parasites, ear mites. They're all very thin, " said Lori Ketcham of STAR.
When the animals are nursed back to health, they'll be made available for adoption, said Ketcham.
Anyone who is interested in adopting one of the animals from the home can fill out an application online at http://www.savetheanimalsrescue.org/.
NBC 4 New York captured this video of some of the cats taken from the house.