PUTNAM COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Animal Rescue Corps assisted the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office with the rescue of more than 42 animals from neglectful conditions at a Cookeville home Friday night.
The rescue was dubbed Operation Storm’s End and the property owners were believed to be breeding the animals for sale. All of the animals were seized by the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office.
ARC responders reportedly found 23 dogs and 19 cats either without water or without drinkable water, and when food was present it was visibly moldy.
High ammonia gas levels and fresh diarrhea were present in the home, according to ARC, where dogs had recently been housed in the basement but, at the time of the seizure, all dogs present were outside.
Several dogs were found in trash-strewn pens and others were running loose on the property.
Seven cats were contained in an outdoor enclosure in the back yard and the remainder were in the house, including a mom and two kittens.
The animals were suffering from a range of medical issues, including dental disease, matting of the fur, fur loss, ear and eye infections, internal and external parasites (such as fleas), overgrown nails, untreated skin infections, pyometra, untreated entropion, and corneal ulcers, according to a release from ARC.
A long-deceased kitten was also reportedly found in a basket on a shelf.
The planning for the rescue began when ARC was contacted by the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, who had arrived at the property to serve an arrest warrant on an unrelated matter Friday morning and, upon discovering the animals housed in deplorable conditions, requested ARC’s assistance in removing the animals and documenting them and the property.
ARC reported one of the two adult property owners living in the home was arrested and charged with felony theft and TennCare fraud.
ARC safely transported the animals of Operation Storm’s End to their Rescue Operations Center in Lebanon, TN.
“Just the miracle of clean air and clean water and fresh food, fresh bedding, people to love on you that does a lot for them to start healing the wounds and the illnesses. You know some of them will take longer than others, but you know just the basics is what so many of them need,” Amy Haverstick Director of Operations for ARC told News 2.
The animals rescued Friday have received a thorough veterinary exam, appropriate vaccinations, and continue to receive any necessary medical treatment. ARC will provide daily care until their legal custody is determined and they can be placed with shelter and rescue organizations that will ultimately adopt them into loving homes.
The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office arrested Tara Neutzler on unrelated charges and the investigation into the animals is ongoing.
She and Donald Schoenthal were indicted last year on 156 charges each, including animal cruelty and child neglect in Carroll County.