UPDATE: 21 animals rescued in Tracy City living in filthy conditions
The animals' pens were filled with animal feces and dozens of dead rats.
UPDATE: Police officers and an animal protection organization rescued 21 animals from a home in Tracy City.
Tracy City police officers discovered the animals during a welfare check after the property owner was involved in a serious car accident. Officers found dogs in makeshift pens made of scrap fencing and plywood, scattered around the property.
The pens were filled with animal feces and dozens of dead rats.
"I got led through the front door by a gentleman and as I was coming through there were cockroaches falling on my head, the house was in very poor shape, every step you took, cockroaches," said Officer AJ Cunningham.
Rescuers reported the dogs were all underweight and didn’t have access to food, clean water or veterinary care. They are suffering from a variety of illnesses including mange, external parasites, conjunctivitis (pink eye), tumors and untreated injuries.
Officers went inside the home and found more dogs and cats. Most of the dogs are larger breeds, but some of the indoor animals were smaller breeds suffering from neglect.
"No food, no water with the animals, cockroaches everywhere, there was fleas, when I come out I had to take and pick fleas off of myself," Cunningham said.
Tracy City police called animal protection organization Animal Rescue Corps (ARC) to help with the scene.
“When we saw the conditions and the number of animals at the property, we knew we needed to reach out to ARC for assistance,” said Chief Charlie Wilder in a press release. “I’ve worked with [ARC president] Scotlund [Haisley] in the past and I knew if ARC could help, they would.”
ARC sent a team to Tracy City to help recover the animals. Authorities seized a total of 12 cats and nine dogs from the property. They’re being housed in an emergency shelter while authorities settle custody of the animals. ARC is caring for the animals and providing full medical exams and vaccinations. When custody of the animals is settled, they will be placed with ARC partnering shelters and rescue groups.
“The conditions on this property were some of the worst we have ever seen, truly a house of horrors,” said Animal Rescue Corps president Scotlund Haisley, in a press release. “The outdoor pens were filled with feces, and rats and the house was infested with thousands of cockroaches. The amount of suffering these animals have endured is heart breaking.”
Animal Rescue Corps named the rescue “Operation Tennessee Waltz II.”
The conditions were so bad, people entering the home had to wear the same kind of protective clothing police wear when busting up a meth lab.
"They were all wearing tyvek suits they were all wearing personal respirator, the ammonia levels in the house was reported to be way too high for anyone to safely breathe in that house. So it looked like they were going in cleaning up a meth lab but what they were doing was rescuing animals," said Chief Wilder.
The property owner, whose name has not yet been released, is a 69-year-old woman and she remains in the hospital in critical condition. No charges have been filed at this time.
"She's living in some very unsanitary conditions and she's our number one priority at this time is getting her the help she needs and deserves," Chief Wilder said.