HOUSTON - Authorities made a frightening discovery Wednesday morning in a Heights home.
They brought out 15 snakes in cages and pillow cases. They were found packed into two rear bedrooms. Many appeared to be underfed.
The homeowner is a single woman who has kept the exotic snakes for more than a decade. But investigators seized them today though contending they were being cruelly confined and weren't getting proper food or care.
At least two of the snakes, pythons, were more than 18 feet long. All of them, according to investigators, are potentially dangerous.
"Under the right circumstances any of them would be dangerous, especially these large ones. I believe they would be capable of killing a person," said Deputy Christine Kendrick-Harris with the Harris County Precinct 1 Constable's Office.
Next door neighbor Ysidro Arrizola didn't know about the snakes until the constables showed up Wednesday.
"That's amazing; scary," said Arrizola. "I'm glad they're gone. I've got a grandson and if he played out in the back yard, just think if one of those things go out of the gate and get out there in the back yard and bite my son or grandson."
The owner is identified as Brittany Barrineau. She lives in an apartment behind the house. Deputy constables began investigating her a month ago after an anonymous caller told them the snakes were being kept in inhumane conditions.
Investigators say she's owned the snakes for 15 years but recently lost her job.
"The owner is visibly upset. She was trying everything she could to take care of these animals, but clearly she's not able to. The animals were in bad shape. One has a broken back," said Harris County Precinct 1 Constable Alan Rosen.
Barrineau wasn't available for comment. Investigators haven't decided if she'll face animal cruelty charges. That will depend a great deal on what the SPCA's vet determines about the snakes' condition.
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