Toddler found in cage with abused animals
US authorities have arrested three people after a toddler was found caged in a dog kennel during an animal rescue operation in Henry County, Tennessee.
Henry County Sheriff's deputies raided a mobile home with several outbuildings on Thursday, and what they found shocked them.
A one-year-old boy was found in a dog cage in the living room.
Henry County Sheriff Monte Belew provided an update Friday morning, revealing that the toddler was found in a 4x4 cage.
Mr Belew said the child didn't have any toys or blankets.
"Everything that child possessed or played with was in that kennel," Belew said.
Authorities had no idea of the alleged child abuse when they arrived. They had been brought to the area because of reports of animal cruelty.
There was faeces on the floor and cockroaches and maggots numbering in the thousands were also found.
Around 15-20 dogs were crammed in the house.
Three buckets filled with hundreds of mice were found propped up next to the cage, to feed a boa constrictor in the room. There were seven snakes found in the living room altogether.
In total, authorities found a number of animals in great need around the property, including:
- 86 chickens and roosters
- 56 dogs
- 10 rabbits
- 4 parakeets
- 3 cats
- 8 snakes
- 1 pheasant
- 531 mice, rats and hamsters
- 1 gecko
- 3 sugar gliders
Some of the animals were dead when they found them.
Among the things police recovered were 127 marijuana plants and also 17 unlicensed guns.
"With all of the law enforcement experience up here, it's hard to find something that actually shocks us," Mr Belew said.
"I've never seen this before, and I can guarantee the gentlemen up here with me have never seen this before."
The sheriff said some portions of the home didn't have any flooring at all. He described the kitchen as "unliveable."
The Animal Rescue Corps responded to the location to help care for the animals.
Mr Belew identified the three suspects as 46-year-old T.J. Brown, 42-year-old Heather Scarbrough and 82-year-old Charles Brown.
All three have been charged with aggravated child abuse, aggravated animal cruelty, possession of firearm in commission of a felony, manufacturing of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and cruelty to animals.
T.J. Brown was also charged with felon in possession of firearm.
Each suspect was held at the at Henry County Jail on a US$300,000 (AU$437,000) bond. A court appearance was set for June 30 at 9am.
"It's a very rural part of the county, you're not far from the state line. Dale Cemetery Road is not a very travelled road at all. Not much traffic on it whatsoever," Mr Belew said.
"They just wanted to live their life. We had to explain to them that there is a norm."