Malnourished Monkeys Kept in Chicago Home

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on June 30, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In yet another animal cruelty story out of Chicago, police seized two malnourished monkeys and five dogs from an elderly woman's home after being tipped off that they were being held in unsanitary conditions without the requisite food and water.

It turns out that the animals belonged to the woman's 46-year-old daughter, Rachel Birkenfeld, who has now been arrested and charged with possession of a dangerous animal and neglect.

Tipped off by a social worker sent to check on the elderly woman, the Chicago Sun-Times reports that the local Animal Crimes Unit found the malnourished monkeys and dogs in small, unsanitary cages riddled with excrement and cigarette butts.

When asked about the animals, the paper reports that Rachel Birkenfeld admitted that they belonged to her, and told police that the animals were at her mother's home due to there being more room.

While many jurisdictions ban exotic pets, some, like Illinois, require that owners who wish to house certain species obtain a license. However, this is the least of Birkenfeld's problems.

Depending on the species, keeping animals in cages on a permanent basis may not necessarily amount to animal cruelty, but keeping them in incredibly dirty cages without access to clean water and food is not up for discussion.

At the most basic level, a pet owner legally must provide their animals with food, water and a sanitary place to live.

Given the state in which police found the malnourished monkeys and dogs, Rachel Birkenfeld clearly failed to meet the most basic level of care.

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