'Bob the Critter Man' cited for animal cruelty

David Weissman
  • Robert "Bob" Furrer, formerly of Bob's Critters, was cited for 34 counts of animal cruelty.
  • SPCA officer found neglected animals including snakes, birds and scorpions inside Furrer's home.
  • Bob's Critters has been taken over by Furrer's former manager and is now called Mike's Critters.

A longtime animal presenter, known for showing snakes and other critters at schools and camps across York County, was found guilty of 34 counts of animal cruelty late last year.

Children at Camp Pennwood pet one of the animals brought by Bob's Critters.

Robert "Bob" Furrer, 66, formerly of Bob's Critters, will be prohibited from owning animals for 30 days per charge, totaling nearly three years, according to the York County SPCA.

An SPCA officer entered Furrer's Fairview Township home on Feb. 2, 2016, and found numerous dead animals along with live animals suffering from various levels of neglect, according to various citations filed in the office of Magisterial District Judge Scott Gross.

Alarming conditions: Melissa Smith, York SPCA executive director, said her office was called to the property on the 400 block of Nauvoo Road because Furrer was being evicted.

"The overall conditions of the home were alarming," Smith said. "It was overridden with dead animals and extremely inappropriate, especially with the special needs required for many of these animals."

The animals listed in citations included: an alligator covered in algae and dirt, nine tarantulas without access to water, a tortoise, a parakeet, a snapping turtle, a bullfrog infested with parasites, seven different types of snakes and three scorpions that died despite veterinary care.

Smith said her office brought along Dr. Randon Feinsod and members of his staff at Ani-Care Animal Hospital in York Township because they have an expertise in identifying and caring for the unique animals found in the home. Most of the surviving animals were taken in by Ani-Care, she added.

"Someone in Mr. Furrer's position, who prided himself on his knowledge of these animals, obviously would have known what these animals needed," Smith said, adding that she believes this was an ongoing issue.

Furrer continued his animal presentations until he was found guilty on 34 counts of cruelty to animals on Dec. 21, 2016.

Smith said her office was frustrated that Furrer continued his presentations, but it is their policy not to release such information until it is public record through the court system.

A voicemail message left for Furrer's attorney, Kathryn Nonas-Hunter, was not immediately returned.

Mike's Critters: The Bob's Critters Facebook page posted on Monday that Furrer was retiring after more than 20 years of sharing his animals with children and adults.

The website, still listed at bobscritters.com, is now titled Mike's Critters, named after Mike Buleza, the longtime manager of the program.

Buleza said Furrer did not communicate well with him, and he wasn't aware he was found guilty until last month. As the person in charge of scheduling, Buleza said he would have prevented Furrer from presenting last year if he knew the seriousness of the allegations.

The site shows that Mike's Critters has coming appearances scheduled at Parks Hill Elementary School in Hanover (May 5) and Ore Valley Elementary School in York Township (May 12).

Buleza said he did not consider shutting down the program because he believes its mission for kids to learn about and enjoy these unique animals is so important.

Furrer has been completely removed from involvement in the program, and Buleza said he was disappointed and surprised about his issues.

Smith said her office has not had direct contact with Buleza, but they have "very strong concerns" regarding the future of his program. SPCA officers still are considering reaching out to him about their concerns, she added.

Smith said she also is seeking the public's help to ensure that Furrer is not able to obtain animals before the court-ordered prohibition is complete. Anyone who is aware that he owns an animal is asked to call 717-764-6109 ext. 127.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.