An animal rescue volunteer is accused of hoarding more than 300 dead birds and other critters inside her mother's New Jersey home.

Gretchen Rell, 56, of Ocean Township, was indicted Monday on two counts of third-degree animal cruelty.

Police responded to the Little Silver home of Rell's mother in March. There, they said they found more than 300 dead animals, including birds, turtles, rabbits, mice, opossums and other mammals that were so decomposed they couldn't be further identified.

Prosecutors said an investigation revealed that Rell, a volunteer in the wildlife division of the Monmouth County SPCA, took in the animals between January and March for temporary rehabilitation. Instead of receiving treatment, the animals died of starvation and dehydration, according to officials.

Many of the animals discovered were still in their original sealed crates or boxes, investigators said.

Birds were also found in Rell's home at the time of her arrest Monday, according to police. She allegedly admitted to having 16 pigeons.

Rell was released on her own recognizance after appearing in Monmouth County Superior Court. A judge ordered her to immediately surrender any animals in her care, including the pigeons.

Rell is also barred from returning to the Monmouth County SPCA and from taking in any animals. If convicted of the charges, she faces a maximum possible prison sentence of five years.

Contact Alex Wigglesworth at 215-854-2305 or Follow @phila_lex on Twitter.
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