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12 People Arrested, 9 Animals Rescued In Major Police Raids

TJO SNAKESPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) –SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WGGB) — Two large scale police raids in Springfield led to a dozen arrests and the rescue of nine animals.

Police say they raided 280 Walnut Street around 8AM. They arrested 24 year old Joseph Darco on an outstanding warrant for armed robbery, as well as possession of cocaine and a gun.

They then had to call the animal control officers, though, to remove a king snake and two boas, including one six feet long.

“It was a little nerve wracking. I didn’t know what i was expecting going in because they just let me know that the snake was loose in the house,” Thomas J. O’Connor Animal Control Officer Renee Robichaud said. “Thankfully he had just gone into a nice warm corner.”

The snakes cooperated and Darco is being held on $100,000 cash bail after being arrested in unique raid.

“You almost always see a dog if that’s what you are getting called out for, it’s not usually just a bunch of lizards sitting in the house,” Robichaud said.

Hours later a separate Springfield Police narcotics carried out a raid at 36 Fort Pleasant Street. 11 people were arrested. 215 bags of heroin were confiscated, along with 45 bags of crack, 11 bags of cocaine, nearly 200 grams of weed, and over $1500. Six pitbulls were also rescued, once again, by Robichaud and her colleagues. Four of the dogs were found in the basement, one was outside, and one was in an upstairs pantry.

“He seemed to be not wanting people down in the basement. He may have been trained to do that or he may have just been protecting his younger siblings so to speak,” Robichaud said. “All of them were in relatively good shape but very timid, very nervous, undersocialized for their age.”

Now that the dogs are being cared for the question becomes what’s next for their future.

The Thomas J. O’Connor animal shelter says that the animals could have been legitimate pets, not necessarily being used negatively. Owners or relatives have seven days to claim the snakes and dogs. Meantime, officers work to determine their needs, personalities, and ability to be adopted.

“All of this is so unsettling because animals are just caught up in the midst of a lot of  bad activity. It’s just so unfortunate and happens so often. It really causes heartache and frustration,” TJO Director Pam Peebles said.

Officers say that most of the dogs settled down nicely once they were in their kennels at TJO, and that in the commotion of a police raid it’s not uncommon for dogs of any kind to get defensive.

At the shelter, the snakes will also get cared for. Because it is often harder to find adoptions for snakes, they likely will be handed over to reptile rescue group.


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