Pittsburgh police charge ‘Chomp’ alligator owner with neglect, animal cruelty
Pittsburgh police on Tuesday charged a Beechview man, who admitted he owned a five-foot alligator who escaped from his home, with 33 counts of neglect.
As police probed the case surrounding the rogue reptile named Chomp, they learned that Mark A. McGowan, 44, who lives on Rutherford Avenue, kept reptiles there. Animal control officers found Chomp wandering along Rutherford Avenue on June 6. Four days later, police interviewed McGowan.
Inside his home, police said they saw a “multitude of animals, mostly reptiles” in the living room. They were in plastic bins, aquariums and cages. Six rabbits were blocked into the kitchen area and were loose, according to the criminal complaint.
The next day, authorities returned with a search warrant and a reptile expert and removed nearly three dozen animals that were deemed to be neglected.
McGowan owns Jungle’s Edge Exotics and also works with an organization called Creatures and Creep Rods that holds shows to raise money for nonprofits.
McGowan told police he had as many as 400 animals in the residence earlier this year, but was downsizing because of a planned move to Saltsburg, according to the criminal complaint.
Police filed the charges Tuesday, which include 33 summary counts of neglect in addition to the misdemeanor charges of reckless endangering and cruelty to animals.
The charges were filed because McGowan hadn’t provided a specific address in Saltsburg where he intended to move the animals, according to the complaint.
McGowan didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment about the charges.
Tom Davidson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tom at 724-226-4715, [email protected] or via Twitter .