LESLIE, Mich. (WLNS) – An Ingham county animal owner is speaking out after police removed 22 cats and 44 birds for living in alleged unsanitary conditions.

What started as a call about a loose dog on the 1200 block of Kinneville Road in Leslie soon lead officers on a several hours-long search throughout the property. One man who owned the animals is calling the investigation unfair and claims the animals were cared for.

“That’s my income, not pleasure for animals, I love animals. My income, that’s my eggs, that’s my income to pay for more feed,” said chicken owner Timothy Lee Goddard.

Goddard said he was away from home when Ingham County Animal Control officers conducted a search of the farm he shares with several other people.

When officers arrived, they noticed what they called unsanitary living conditions. 22 cats, 44 birds ranging from chickens, ducks, a turkey and a guinea fowl were seized. A dead pet rodent was also found in a tank.

Goddard said the farm has gotten a warning before and that it’s frustrating that he wasn’t able to talk to investigators.

“It wasn’t a lot of time, it was probably within two weeks. With check-up stuff because it’s only one kid, 24 years old, running the house and there is one person me, and some friends that run the property out here, five acres. Trying to clean stuff up, a lot of things got in the way,” said Goddard.

Dan Verhougstraete with Ingham County Animal Control said he was unaware of any warnings issued at the property. He explained that the department tries to educate animal owners first during cases of minor neglect.

“However, if the violations are severe or the safety of the animal is at risk then we have to go the enforcement route,” he said.

He adds charges depend on the number of animals found.

“In this case, this would be felony charges we would be requesting,” he said.

Police stress that a nearby dog daycare center is not involved in the investigation.

Staff with the Ingham County Animal Shelter say they are accepting donations of non-clumping cat litter, wet pate cat food and chicken feed.