Diana Sleiertin, owner of MaxMan Reptile Rescue in Jordan, has been in and out of court since the Central New York SPCA seized more than 40 reptiles from her home in Jordan in late October.
Sleiertin currently faces 45 charges of improper confinement (a misdemeanor) and 14 additional charges for failure to provide medical care. The case is being reviewed by a town of Elbridge judge, and Sleiertin could receive up to $1,000 per charge and up to two years of prison.
Central New York SPCA Director Paul Morgan said he obtained a warrant to go into Sleiertin's house after receiving statements from former MaxMan volunteers claiming the conditions inside her home were deplorable and the animals were not being given proper care.
Morgan, who has turned to MaxMan for help with reptiles in the past, said Sleiertin is a valuable resource, but feels she got in over her head.
"I think her intentions were good in the beginning, but I think unfortunately she became a hoarder," he said. "She just got too many to care for."
Morgan said the SPCA found close to 70 reptiles in Sleiertin's home, and that they were "all over the place, in her kitchen and living room."
Sleiertin has declined comment at the advice of her attorney, but MaxMan volunteers and others, including veterinarians who have worked closely with Sleiertin, contest the notion that Sleiertin got in over her head.
Linda Fay, a MaxMan volunteer who has known Sleiertin for about five years, said most of Sleiertin's reptiles are kept in the "reptile room," and all reptiles are kept in proper enclosures with appropriate heat and lighting. Some reptiles are kept throughout the house, but always in cages or tanks, Fay said.
"Sometimes it's messier than other times, but it's not like something you'd see on hoarders," she said. Fay added that Sleiertin is more than equipped to take care of the reptiles she has, and can turn to her crew of volunteers for assistance. MaxMan is staffed with around 45 volunteers and offers a junior volunteer program for kids ages 8 to 18.