More than a dozen dogs rescued from a hoarding situation at a home in Marion County this week are now being helped by animal services in Hamilton County. 

Seventeen dogs were living in deplorable conditions outdoors. In some cages, animal feces had piled a foot high.

Marion County doesn't have an animal control or shelter service, leaving the rescues up to local groups and volunteers.

A concerned citizen tipped off Marion Animal Resource Connection to a home in the 100 block of John Miller Rd. in Whitwell. Rescuers found dogs living in filthy and frozen cages. Two dogs were found frozen to death.

"They were standing in feces that were six to 12 inches deep, some of them were in crates that we couldn't get into without wire cutters, and the only way they were being fed was by pouring food through the cage," said Sue Scruggs.

Humane Educational Society of Chattanooga offered to rehabilitate the animals. Executive director, Bob Citrullo, said the dogs belonged to an elderly couple.

"It's sad," he said. "Many people start out with best intentions, but it just gets out of control."

Citrullo said one of the owners had experienced health problems, which attributed to the animals' lack of proper care.

HES is currently cleaning, grooming and caring for the neglected animals. Eleven of the 15 dogs tested positive for heartworm and are being nursed back to health. Treating them isn't cheap, Citrullo said.

"We don't have the resources for this, but we're just not going to let them die."

HES is hoping to have some of the healthy dogs on the adoption floor within a few weeks.

No charges have been filed against the owners in Marion County.