We’ve been watching court records for a month, and charges were finally filed this week against Matthew A. Hazelbrook, the man arrested after hundreds of neglected or dead animals were found at his Delridge home. (Our original coverage is here and here.) Hazelbrook, 54, is charged with 17 counts of animal cruelty. From the charging documents:
The defendant often travels out of State and has kept properties in other jurisdictions. The defendant was in possession of at least 211 live animals of different species on two adjacent properties that were living in deplorable conditions-ammonia, feces, lack of food, lack of water, lack of space; and there were deceased animals in cages, on the ground, and in cages with live animals. The animals were suffering from medical conditions that were being untreated. In addition to the various animals that were located as deceased on scene, at least seven animals have died since being seized due to the defendant’s neglect. The defendant poses a risk for acquiring and neglecting more animals as he runs a transport business across state lines, is involved in 4H groups, has unknown properties, and the condition of this property and the animals likely developed over a significant period of time going unnoticed and unreported. Hoarding situations such as this are complex and the defendants are prone to recidivism.
The charging documents say that the mid-October search warrant that led to Hazelbrook’s arrest followed a complaint about dead animals on the property two months earlier. Investigators say they found more than 100 dead animals and 222 live animals, most with no access to food, more than half with no access to water – 128 guinea pigs, 77 rabbits, 7 chickens, 3 guinea fowl, 3 dogs, 2 chinchillas, and 2 mice. More than half the impounded animals needed some kind of medical care, investigators say. The 17 charges are based on the number of animals assessed as being in “critical” condition, some of which did not survive.
Hazelbrook has been out of custody since posting bond on $7,500 bail one day after his arrest in mid-October. He is scheduled for arraignment – to enter initial pleas to the charges – next Wednesday (November 25th). The documents note that his only conviction record is for third-degree theft 33 years ago.