Man hospitalized, more than 40 animals found in home

A New Market man was hospitalized Wednesday due to high ammonia levels in his house caused by nearly 50 animals living inside.

Emergency responders transported the 63-year-old man to Rockingham Memorial Hospital around 4 p.m. from his residence at 295 Oak Lane. First responders then summoned Shenandoah County Fire Marshal Dave Ferguson and the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office after detecting high ammonia levels.

Capt. Wes Dellinger of the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office said deputies soon obtained a search warrant, donned HAZMAT suits with special breathing apparatuses and searched the premises.

Inside, they found 40 chickens, three dogs and a cat. Dellinger said the animals were in poor condition, and their waste led to dangerously high ammonia levels in the house.

“Upon evaluating the patient, responders discovered ammonia levels at an extremely high level in the residence due to large amounts of animals such as chickens and cats living inside the dwelling,” Dellinger said.

The fire marshal condemned the residence after inspecting it. No one was allowed to enter it until it was cleaned and the ammonia levels subsided.

No charges have been filed against the victim, and the Sheriff’s Office declined to release his name.

Dellinger said the animals have since been taken to a foster home and will remain there until a seizure hearing is conducted. The investigation is ongoing.

Contact staff writer Jake Zuckerman at 540-465-5137 ext. 152, or jzuckerman@nvdaily.com.