Child found in Florida home with 300 rats ‘roaming freely,’ deputies say
BEVERLY HILLS, Fla. (WFLA) – A Florida woman was arrested after deputies said they found a child living among hundreds of animals in unsanitary conditions.
The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office responded to a home in Beverly Hills to investigate an animal cruelty complaint Wednesday evening.
Deputies said they were “overwhelmed” by the smell of ammonia immediately after stepping inside. The “build-up” of feces, trash and rotten food resulted in an infestation of flies and cockroaches, according to the sheriff’s office.
As they moved through the home, deputies reportedly encountered several reptiles and rodents in cages, as well as cats and rats running between rooms. They said one bedroom was home to 50 rats in cages, with over 300 more running around freely.
“It was blatantly obvious; these animals were deprived of all their basic necessities,” the sheriff’s office said.
A second bedroom was home to a ferret in a feces-filled cage and a dog found inside a crate that was “entirely too small,” according to the sheriff’s office. Deputies said the animals did not have food or water in their cages.
A child was found in a third bedroom filled with trash, “where even the mattress was covered with roaches,” deputies said. The floor was reportedly covered in blood from where cats killed a rat.
“Abuse of any kind should not be tolerated,” Sheriff Mike Prendergast said. “The conditions of this residence and the animals in this case were so bad, Sheriff’s Office personnel were cautioned about making entry. Neither children nor animals should ever endure this type of environment. It is crucial that our citizens report any possible signs of child or animal neglect.”
Shannon Marie Morgan, 38, was charged with 12 counts of animal cruelty and child neglect. She is being held on a $26,000 bond.
The sheriff’s office said animal control officers removed seven cats, one dog and one ferret from the home. They will return to the home to investigate further and to remove the remaining animals.
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