Daniel Kopulos is charged with cruelty to animals, and faces up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine if he is found guilty. He was released on a promise to appear in court October 24, when additional charges could be added due to the number of animals involved in the suspected abuse.
FOX 61 has learned that Kopulos, who owned the house and barn where the animals were found, is the executive director for Animal Preservation Alliance and was also the founding owner of Fauna NYC, a former exotic animal shop on the Upper West Side of Manhattan that shut its doors.
The Animal Preservation Alliance is a nonprofit started to prevent cruelty to animals and ensure their welfare and protection. It got its tax exempt status in New York one year ago. There is no active website for the organization, and it appears the Facebook page has been taken down.
When the animals were discovered September 16, investigators called it one of the worst cases they’d ever seen. Animal Control responded to the home after reports from neighbors of a foul smell emanating from the home and barn.
"I couldn't describe the way this smells if I tried," said FOX 61 reporter Jenna DeAngelis, who went to the scene as investigators removed the animals.
They contacted the owner, who gave permission for officers to enter a barn behind the home. More than 100 exotic birds, some dead and some alive, were found in deplorable conditions, and more than 100 more animals--birds, snakes and other reptiles--were found in the house.
Despite the exotic nature of the animals, Kopulos' possession of them appeared to be legal.
"Our Environmental Conservation Officers determined none of dead or live animals there were in violation of regulations concerning possession of exotic or dangerous animals. Our Emergency Response Team did assist in cleanup of site and removal of living animals, that were taken by a facility that is able to care for them," said Dennis Schain, communications director of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
Weston Emergency Management Director Joseph Miceli said in September, “There were, I would say, dozens of animals between the reptiles and birds that we did find deceased and in various stages of decomposition.”
The animals, most of which were held in a barn behind the home, were brought to different places, including the Rain forest Reptiles in Massachusetts and Rhode Island Parrot Rescue. Veterinarians from the South Wilton Veterinary Group examined the birds before they were transported.
Weston Police Department Sg. Patrick Daubert said, “All of the people that have been assisting us today, have never seen anything of this magnitude. It’s quite shocking.”