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More than 1,000 animals, many dead, discovered in unsanitary conditions in Montclair industrial park

More than 1,000 animals, many of them dead, were being removed from a Montclair industrial park Friday after authorities investigating reports of a rotten smell found the creatures in hoarder-like conditions, police said.

"Despite the doors being closed, we could smell an odor of feces and decay. For lack of a better term, a chicken farm smell," said Montclair police Sgt. John Minook. "This is probably the worst I've seen in my career."

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Though the animals were found late Thursday, authorities had to assemble enough resources to clear the place out as quickly as possible, Minook said.

The city reached out to the Inland Valley Humane Society to take over the animal cruelty investigation while public works employees spent all day Friday carrying out containers filled with fish, birds and reptiles in all states of decomposition. Some animals were still alive, Minook said.

When he and two other officers first arrived at the building Thursday, they stepped through a doorway and walked into a wall of cages, Minook said.

"It was just piled with cages and birds. There were 15 to 20 cages piled up, water and urine on the floor, animals on the floor. We had to walk sideways between industrial water tanks filled with fish," he said.

Officers had shown up at the building Thursday as part of an investigation into the man living there — a man who had been arrested on a warrant out of another county. During the investigation, police noticed a smell emanating from the building, Minook said. Code enforcement and police then followed up and went inside, he said.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.

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