By Holly Brantley - email
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Humane Society workers say they found some of the worst conditions they've ever seen just down the road from their own shelter.
What's more, not only were animals living in the home, but also the owner's 12-year-old child.
The child is in foster care, meanwhile most of the animals are at the Humane Society.
Besides dogs, the owner also signed over about 40 rabbits. Police discovered the animal living in stacked cages, boxes with lids, and cages full of animal feces. The owner agreed to talk to Heartland News about the situation.
"I'm so worried they wouldn't let me see them or have contact with them," the unidentified owner said of the animals. "They would only tell me they were ok."
"It was quite obvious the animals were dehydrated," said Ty Metzger of the Cape Girardeau Police Department. "They were fighting over water bottles."
Police say the state of the animals was so severe they couldn't get them help fast enough. They say the owner was cooperative, and signed the animals over to authorities.
"Some of the rabbits were dying on scene," said Requi Salter of the Humane Society. "The conditions were deplorable. Hoarding is an issue where you have people that love animals and believe they are doing a good job but they get in way over their head."
"I was trying to get out," said the owner.
According to the owner, the Department of Family Services also took her 12-year-old daughter due to the conditions they found. She says she was trying to take care of two properties after her father passed away and it just became too much.
"It's ripped my heart out," she said. "I love the animals but nothing compares to your child."
The dogs were taken to Dana's Pet Salon for grooming. They came in Tuesday morning matted and scared.
"It's awful," said salon owner, Dana King. "Why would you do that."
After a few hours, the dogs were mat and dirt free. What's unusual about this hoarding case, many are rare and pure breeds the owner collected from many different sources. King regularly volunteers the time of her staff to clean up neglected animals.
"They try to have a good heart and think they're being good to them but if you can't afford them don't do it," said King.
More than 40 rabbits are also at the humane society. As for the owner, she says she wishes she'd been given time to fix the situation and she didn't understand she wouldn't be getting her animals back. Now, she is hoping her daughter will be returned to her and her dogs and rabbits will find good loving homes.
"I want them to be in homes where they will be loved and taken care of," said the woman.
All of the animals are up for adoption. The owner says a local church is helping her find another place to live. Heartland News is told the property is in the process of being condemned.
Police say they are still investigating. Authorities should have their file to the prosecutors Wednesday morning. They say they alleged neglect actually happened in two different locations. Stay with Heartland News for the latest updates.