"The first thing we encountered when we arrived was a dying dog in the back yard that appeared to be dead, it wasn't until we started taking its picture that it's eye moved and we realized it was really alive," said Union County Animal Control Officer Donna Hawk.
When authorities arrived they found 21 horses, malnourished, some medically neglected, and inside the house a veritable menagerie with dogs, cats, birds, even squirrels. all of which have been rescued.
"Some of the medical situations we encountered the overall care, lack of proper food, we encountered throughout," said Hawk.
"Actually we did not realize all the animals were inside the basement, we'd been monitoring the animals outside," said Hawk.
The Elsners face possible felony charges for housing so many animals in their home without being a licensed kennel and first and foremost, for failing to take care of the animals in their possession.
The child remains home, but all of the animals have been removed. But with such a large number of displaced cats, dogs, birds and horses, officials will work through the night to find temporary homes.
One horse sustained a leg injury that was not cared for and was euthanized Wednesday night. A kitten was also put down because neglect of medical attention had caused such severe damage. James says he expects at least three counts of aggravated cruel treatment of animals to come out of this investigation, but no charges were filed Wednesday.