UPDATE: Tuesday 5:15 PM 

CLEVELAND, BRADLEY COUNTY (WRCB) – James Freeman feeds chickens at his home off

Ellis Road.

Most of his days are spent tending to his family of animals, that is, until Monday night.

Bradley County deputies picked up 20 dogs, 2 horses, a cat, claiming the animals didn't have clean water or food.

Both he and his wife were charged with 39 counts of animal cruelty.

Freeman said, "They have been without water for a very short period, it wasn't very long. As soon as I got home I would have taken care of that."

Freeman says he wouldn't call his love for animals hoarding, instead a self-proclaimed rescue mission.

He says his goal was to avoid taking animals to a shelter where they could be euthanized.

Freeman said, "I try to put an ad in the paper. Found. I try to find the owners of these dogs."

According to the Bradley County Sheriff's Office, deputies and animal control have visited the home 70 different times, all due to the influx of animals.

Freeman questions the allegations of "cruelty" to animals.

We went to the shelter where the dogs are currently held.

Many were actively barking and playing, not necessarily the signs of abuse.

He says this animal bust was personal.

Freeman said, "He felt he was playing white knight. Dive in and save the animals."

Virginia Redmon says she purchased one of the horses taken from the property and has been friends of the freeman's for years.

On occasion, she would help the family feed the dozens of pets.

Redmon said, "These people right, they make buckets and buckets of feed for their dogs. I know they feed their dogs."

The Freeman's plead not guilty in court Tuesday.

Both are due in court June 14th.

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A Bradley County couple is facing 39 counts of animal cruelty.

According to deputies, a number of animals were not receiving proper care in the 90 degree temperatures.

Investigators say a concerned neighbor told deputies that about the home on Ellis Drive where 20 dogs, 2 horses, 16 birds and a cat had no clean water or food.

Deputies used a hose and several buckets that were found at the residence to give the animals fresh water.

As they were finishing, the homeowners, James Freeman who is 48-years-old, and Patricia Freeman, 53-years-old, returned home. They were given a criminal summons to appear in General Sessions Court to answer charges of 39 counts of cruelty to animals.

The couple turned themselves in at the Bradley County jail Monday night. After processing, both were released on their own recognizance. 

A court document says animal control officers have responded to the Freeman's home approximately 70 times over an unspecified period of time.

All of the animals except the birds were taken by animal control officers.