Butterfly man faces felony neglect charges after 665 animals removed from home

BUTTERFLY, Neb. (WOWT) – A Papillion man facing several charges of animal neglect was booked into Sarpy County Jail on Wednesday, months after hundreds of animals — dozens of them dead — were removed from his home.

The Sarpy County Attorney’s Office said in a news release Thursday that Edward Luben will face seven felony charges and five misdemeanor charges for the cruel neglect of animals. He is set to appear in court Friday morning.

In December, “officials seized and removed 665 animals from the home, including exotic birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals,” the release from County Attorney Lee Polikov’s office states. “Approximately 70 of the 665 animals were found deceased during the search, and two animals had to be euthanized due to the extent of their injuries.”

The animals that were removed were evaluated and treated by the Nebraska Humane Society. Many of them were severely malnourished or had physical impairments caused by the living conditions. NHS said Thursday that they were still caring for more than 100 of the animals, receiving treatment and recovering until they are ready for their next step.

The Humane Society said that many of the animals are facing lifelong health issues due to neglect and poor care. Those animals were — and more continue to be — placed at licensed and accredited facilities where compassionate staff will be able to monitor them and provide immediate veterinary care. Others have been slowly released for adoption as they are ready, and have been placed into new homes.

“These animals were living in deplorable conditions… The fact that so many of the animals survived is a testament to the Nebraska Humane Society’s work. They spent countless time and resources rescuing the animals,” the release states.

In order to help authorities build a case for charges, the NHS medical team and several other veterinarians had to perform forensic exams on every single animal — a painstaking process that took about three months to complete, NHS officials said. Additionally, dozens of staff and volunteers worked countless hours to help with the animals’ care.

“We have so many groups and people to thank for helping give these animals a second chance,” an NHS spokesperson told 6 News on Thursday. “…More than 500 people, and several organizations, donated to NHS for the care of these animals. Thousands spread the word on how to help. Our community, as it so often does, came together when it needed to and rallied for these animals. Thank you to all of you who have helped.”

The county attorney’s office encouraged anyone who suspects animal abuse or neglect to call the Nebraska Humane Society at 402-444-7800, Ext. 1.

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