HENRY COUNTY, Tenn. (WZTV) — New video from Animal Rescue Corps (ARC) reveals an inside look at a Tennessee home where a baby was found in a cage and more than 700 animals were rescued.
The nonprofit helped the Henry County Sheriff's Department with what they call "Operation Caged Hell" on Thursday. The sheriff's office was responding to an anonymous animal cruelty tip on Dale Cemetery Road in Buchanan when they discovered the one and a half-year-old baby boy in a cage just by looking through the front door. Cockroaches and flies lined the walls with an overwhelming stench of urine and feces.
In the same room as the child were large snakes, including a 10-foot boa constrictor, mice, rats and other small animals. Once the cage was opened, the sheriff's office said the baby immediately sought comfort in the arms of a female deputy before being taken to Child Protective Services. The Henry County Sheriff described the horrific conditions, noting that the cage was crawling with bugs and had an overwhelming smell of urine.
"In a single-wide trailer in the living room you've got a kid caged, you've got eight snakes and you've got the snakes feed butted up against the child's cage," Henry County Sheriff Monte Belew said. " Eight snakes in the same room, then mice running everywhere."
Video from ARC uncovered the deplorable conditions the baby and the animals had been living in, both packed in a broken-down trailer and a number of out-buildings. Along with the child, 726 animals were removed from the property, including 65 dogs, three cats, 545 rodents, three marsupials, four caged birds, 86 chickens, eight snakes, ten rabbits, one pheasant, and one gecko.
Rescue footage shows pens made with rusty scrap metal littered across the property, filled with dogs, chickens, rats and rabbits. ARC says all of the animals lacked appropriate care and some dead animals were even recovered near piles of trash and debris. While some loose animals roamed the yard, rescuers said the inside of the trailer was filled mostly with containers of mice, rats and huge snakes — some squeezed into containers completely full of feces that restricted movement.
Internal and external parasites, eye injuries, skin diseases, emaciation, untreated wounds and severe neglect were just a few of the injuries the animals sustained, the rescue recounted.
“This was a devastatingly sad scene where animals and a child were kept in torturous conditions," said Tim Woodward, ARC's Executive Director, "We are very grateful for the quick action of Sheriff Belew and his team, and for allowing ARC to make sure that every animal on that property has a chance at a better life."
All of the animals rescued at the Henry County home have now been surrendered. They are receiving medical care in ARC's Rescue Operations Center in Lebanon. Once they are stable, the animals will be transferred to partner shelter and rescue organizations that will enter them into the adoption process. For people wishing to foster or adopt, ARC will publish its list of shelter and rescue placement partners here.
Aside from the toddler and the animals, deputies reported finding 17 firearms and 127 marijuana plants on the property.
Heather Scarbough, 42, mother of the child, Thomas Jefferson Brown, 46, "step father" of the child, and Charles Brown, 82, are all facing felony charges of aggravated child abuse and aggravated cruelty to animals, possession of a firearm while committing another felony, manufacturing marijuana, drug paraphernalia and an additional cruelty to animals. Additional charges are expected.
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