Wife talks about animal cruelty, child endangerment charges

FRESNO, Calif.

"My husband's an amazing person," said Brittany Long. "I never would've imagined this would've happened to us."

30-year-old /*Gary Long*/ pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 16 counts of animal cruelty after his arrest at the home last week. Five days later, CPS took a 16-month-old boy from the home, saying the conditions were not suitable for a child.

/*Brittany Long*/ is eight months pregnant and says she's in no shape to take care of animals. That was her husband's job. But she says the extreme conditions described by investigators have been exaggerated.

Spigots circulate water into empty pig pens, and bales of hay sit uneaten on a trailer. The Long family backyard is the ghost of a farm less than a week after the SPCA and Fresno County sheriff's deputies got a report of terrible conditions for the animals that once lived here.

"This came out of nowhere," said Brittany Long. "We're shocked. We're all shocked right now."

Long wasn't home when deputies arrested her husband, Gary. Investigators say they found a dead cow and several dead chickens.

Rabbits and dogs had no water, and one pig appeared near death until a deputy hosed it down. The SPCA seized all the animals.

Gary Long pleaded not guilty, though, and his wife says investigators don't know the full story.

"This is not right," said Brittany Long. "Our animals come first. We, in most cases, feed our animals before we feed ourselves."

Long says she's not sure why the cow died, but neighbors have fed their cows oleander in the past. She says food and water were always readily available on the farm, and she gave us explanations for just about every animal reported dead or near starvation.

"The pig was up and moving around, so I don't even know where that came from," she said. "The cow skull that everybody kept showing that was from a slaughtered, butchered cow. We have the rest of him in our freezer."

Long would not discuss her latest legal problem, though. Deputies made a second visit to the house Monday, taking custody of her toddler after deeming the house too dangerous for a child.

"Apparently the living conditions were pretty bad -- animal feces, maggots," said Fresno County sheriff's spokesman Chris Curtice.

Brittany Long says, at this point, she only wants her dogs back. She doesn't want the other animals. Her husband is due back in court next week.

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