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Jefferson Hills man raided of 52 chickens and other birds has prior animal cruelty convictions

Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review - At Animal Friends in Ohio Township, Thursday, June 27, 2013, Jolene Miklas tends to a rooster, one of the 62 birds rescued by Animal Friends this past Monday. The birds, 52 chickens, 7 pigeons, 2 ducks, and 1 peacock, were confiscated from a suspected illegal slaughter organization. The birds are living temporarily at the no-kill shelter until they can be placed at farms or other appropriate locations.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Keith Hodan  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>At Animal Friends in Ohio Township, Thursday, June 27, 2013,  Jolene Miklas tends to a rooster, one of the 62 birds rescued by Animal Friends this past Monday. The birds, 52 chickens, 7 pigeons, 2 ducks, and 1 peacock, were confiscated from a suspected illegal slaughter organization. The birds are living temporarily at the no-kill shelter until they can be placed at farms or other appropriate locations.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review - At Animal Friends in Ohio Township, Thursday, June 27, 2013, a rooster crows, one of the 62 birds rescued by Animal Friends this past Monday. The birds, 52 chickens, 7 pigeons, 2 ducks, and 1 peacock, were confiscated from a suspected illegal slaughter organization. The birds are living temporarily inside pet crates at the no-kill shelter until they can be placed at farms or other appropriate locations.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Keith Hodan  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>At Animal Friends in Ohio Township, Thursday, June 27, 2013,  a rooster crows, one of the 62 birds rescued by Animal Friends this past Monday. The birds, 52 chickens, 7 pigeons, 2 ducks, and 1 peacock, were confiscated from a suspected illegal slaughter organization. The birds are living temporarily inside pet crates at the no-kill shelter until they can be placed at farms or other appropriate locations.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review - At Animal Friends in Ohio Township, Thursday, June 27, 2013, a chicken, one of the 62 birds rescued by Animal Friends this past Monday, adjusts to a new home. The birds, 52 chickens, 7 pigeons, 2 ducks, and 1 peacock, were confiscated from a suspected illegal slaughter organization. The birds are living temporarily inside pet crates at the no-kill shelter until they can be placed at farms or other appropriate locations.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Keith Hodan  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>At Animal Friends in Ohio Township, Thursday, June 27, 2013,  a chicken, one of the 62 birds rescued by Animal Friends this past Monday, adjusts to a new home. The birds, 52 chickens, 7 pigeons, 2 ducks, and 1 peacock, were confiscated from a suspected illegal slaughter organization. The birds are living temporarily inside pet crates at the no-kill shelter until they can be placed at farms or other appropriate locations.

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By Christina Gallagher
Friday, June 28, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

The owner of a Jefferson Hills home where 52 chickens and other birds were seized on Monday has been convicted of animal cruelty charges as a result of similar raids.

Federal agents and officers from Animal Friends took the chickens, seven pigeons, two ducks and a teal peacock from the home of Xia Xue Vue as part of an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Jefferson Hills police Chief Eugene W. Roach said on Thursday.

Authorities suspect the property on Scotia Hollow Road is being used as an illegal slaughterhouse, according to Jolene Miklas, a spokeswoman for Humane Society officers with the nonprofit Animal Friends shelter in Ohio Township.

Records reviewed by the Tribune-Review show that Vue, 82, was convicted in 2010 and 2011 of animal cruelty charges after raids at the Jefferson Hills home and another home he owns on McKnight Street in Pittsburgh's West End.

Chickens seized from the McKnight property in a September 2011 raid were found living in filth. Police discovered in the basement a bloody meat cleaver and bloody chicken cages. Officers also found large freezers that contained pig heads, a dead squirrel and animal limbs.

In June 2010, Vue pleaded guilty to five counts of animal cruelty. The raid found Vue confined goats, ducks, chickens and chicks in small enclosures on a property on Scotia Hollow Road.

Charges have not been filed against Vue in connection with the raid on Monday.

A statement by the office of David Hickton, the U.S. Attorney for Western Pennsylvania, said special agents from the USDA's Office of Inspector General and Food Safety and Inspection Service conducted the raid along with Humane Society officers from Animal Friends with assistance from Jefferson Hills police.

Attorney David DeFazio, who represented Vue in an animal cruelty case, said he would represent him again if asked.

“(Vue's) family members contacted me, and I'm waiting to hear from him,” he said.

One chicken was found dead during the raid, and two others had to be euthanized because they were in such poor health, Miklas said. The rest of the seized birds are receiving medical care at the Animal Friends shelter.

Some of the chickens were infested with lice and had bald patches. The peacock's blue and green feathers were severely damaged, Miklas said, and many were missing.

All of the surviving birds will be transferred to farm sanctuaries.

Cheryl Schademan, 58, a neighbor of Vue in Jefferson Hills, said she has never seen anyone near his hilltop property. However, she said she and other neighbors have heard chickens and seen pens in the backyard.

A rooster used to wander into Schademan's yard and would wake her family by crowing every morning, she said. She said she was upset because she has not seen the rooster in about three weeks.

“I loved him. I named him Henry,” Schademan said. “And then all of a sudden he was gone.”

Christina Gallagher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5637 or cgallagher@tribweb.com.

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