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Published: Friday, 4/2/2004

Toledoan denies cruelty allegations

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A Toledo man who surrendered 30 exotic birds to the Toledo Area Humane Society last month was charged with animal cruelty Wednesday in Toledo Municipal Court.

Alex Esse, 66, of 140 Whiting St., pleaded not guilty to four counts of cruelty to animals. He is charged with neglecting the birds, ranging from large macaws to small parrots.

The birds were taken from his South Toledo home March 1 after the humane society received an anonymous complaint about the condition of the house. Jed Mignano, a humane society animal cruelty investigator, said it was not the first time he had been to Mr. Esse's home. But the filthy condition of the birds' cages prompted him to take immediate action.

Each bird taken from the home was severely malnourished, said Dr. Susan Orosz, the avian specialist caring from them. Many had fungal or viral infections.

The most serious of the ailments included a Bluefronted Amazon with an imbedded ankle collar, a Nanday Conure with several metabolic bone diseases causing a broken leg, and two Greenback Amazons with severe liver disease. The condition in which the four birds were found led to the first four charges.

"They're improving," said Dr. Orosz, of the Perrysburg Animal Clinic, adding that the bird with the broken leg is taking a long time to heal.

The birds have been placed in new homes, but the cost of their care continues to pile up. Medical costs have topped $6,000, said Susan Maxwell of the humane society, which is accepting donations to help pay for the care of the birds.

Mr. Mignano said the humane society, in previous encounters with Mr. Esse, who also housed about eight dogs, found his home in substandard condition but that the animals never showed outward signs of neglect. The last previous encounter was in June, 2003.

However, on March 1, the condition of the birds and their feces-filled cages led Mr. Mignano to take more immediate action. The birds were removed and the eight Yorkies were examined. The animal cruelty officer said that the dogs apparently have since been given away - although the owner cannot remember to whom - and are the source of another ongoing investigation.

Mr. Esse, a retired Jeep worker, deferred comment on his case to his attorney, James Van Dielen, who was unavailable for comment yesterday. Mr. Esse will appear before Toledo Municipal Court Judge Amy Berling May 19.

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-724-6076.



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