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Sherman Oaks neighbors complain about stench from hundreds of chickens, ducks and Guinea pigs

Neighbors next to the small white stucco house on Willis Avenue had complained for three years about an increasingly fowl stench wafting into their yards and windows.

This week, San Fernando Valley neighborhood prosecutor Tamar Galatzan filed criminal charges against Georgeanne Leaong, 54, of Sherman Oaks, who had a herd of 270 chickens, ducks and Guinea pigs — inside her 1,400-square-foot home.

In an Aug. 15 raid, Los Angeles Animal Services officers sent to confiscate the birds and pigs found guano and feathers several inches thick throughout the house, prosecutors said.

“In the past 25 years, no one can remember seeing birds in worse conditions,” said Deputy City Attorney Galatzan, who filed a criminal complaint Tuesday. “Imagine living next to a house with 270 birds, farm animals.

“Officers slipped on bird poop inside the house, and the temperature in the garage was over 110 degrees. They wore respirators — these certainly weren’t safe conditions.”

Leaong, who may also go by the name Georgianne Leong, is scheduled to be arraigned Nov. 17 at Van Nuys Superior Court. If convicted on the three animal-neglect charges, she could serve up to 18 months in jail and pay a $3,000 fine.

Prosecutors are also seeking restitution for the cost of removing and storing 249 chickens, 21 ducks and four Guinea pigs. Animal Services, which has been safekeeping the birds, did not have an immediate tally of its expenditure.

“I don’t have any comment,” said a woman who came to the door of the chicken house on Tuesday. “I don’t have any comment.”

For neighbors who’d been filing complaints to Animal Services, city officials and the Los Angeles County Health Department since 2011, it’s been like living next to Foster Farms.


First there were a few chickens in the backyard, they said. Then the cackling hens started multiplying — at first in the garage, then the yard, then inside the house.

Neighbors were forced to shut their windows as they were driven from their backyard barbecues. A family across the back fence simply moved.

“It was lousy. The odors were terrible. The chickens were noisy,” said a resident next door who declined to give her name. “My husband has Alzheimer’s — I couldn’t open the windows to get any fresh air.”

Animal Services visited the house numerous times, Galatzan said, issuing numerous citations for violating municipal regulations that say chickens must be kept at least 35 feet from a neighbor’s house.

Early this year, she added, the homeowner steered the animals into her house hoping to ward off the law. When cops came knocking, neighbors said, she wouldn’t open it.

When officers waded into the home in August with a search warrant, Galatzan said, they found two dead chickens and “a rooster wearing a plaid diaper.”

Since then, neighbors say Leaong hired a cleaning crew to muck out her home. A recent visit to her tidy post-war street found her lawn recently mowed and dozens of green garbage bags piled in her rear driveway.

According to county and online records, a woman named Leong lives at the house and runs a perfume, cosmetics and “other toilet preparations” business. A Linked In account for a woman of that name notes she was a former Bear Stearns financial analyst who has for several years studied in the Pierce College pre-veterinary science program.

The neighbors, now free of the incessant ruckus, are relieved. But some say they can still hear the sound of chickens clucking.

“I was afraid there was something dead,” said Rafael Chavez, 66, who also lives next door. “My biggest complaint was not so much the chickens — it was the lack of cleaning on her part. When you let them go wild, that’s when the odor occurs.

“But they’re not all gone,” he insists. “I am a little concerned about the fact there are still chickens there — and she may go back to not cleaning them.”

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