BEVERLY HILLS, Fla. — A woman in Beverly Hills, Florida, has been arrested after a child was found in a messy house with dozens of animals, including 300 rats that were “roaming freely,” officials say.
The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release that deputies on Wednesday evening were called out to a house in Beverly Hills, Florida, about an animal cruelty complaint.
When deputies arrived at the house, they were reportedly overwhelmed by the strong smell of ammonia, according to WFLA. When deputies walked around the house, they reportedly found multiple reptiles and rodents in cages. They also encountered cats and rats running between rooms.
CCSO deputies said that one of the bedrooms had about 50 rat cages with “over 300 more running around freely,” according to WFLA.
CCSO said the house was in “deplorable conditions,” with trash, dirty dishes and rotten food throughout the house. Deputies noticed other rooms had cages with a dog and a ferret. The dog cage was reportedly too small for the dog and the ferret’s cage was dirty. Both did not have food or water.
CCSO said another room had a mattress covered in roaches. Deputies reportedly found a child in that room and trash that had accumulated all over the floor.
“Abuse of any kind should not be tolerated,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast in the news release. “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. Our Animal Control Officers, deputies and crime scene specialists once again have done a phenomenal job.”
Shannon Marie Morgan, 38, was arrested for 12 counts of animal cruelty and a count of child neglect, according to CCSO. Morgan’s bond was set at $26,000.
Animal control officers removed seven cats, a dog, and a ferret from the house, according to CCSO. The house has since been secured for further investigation, which CCSO said includes the removal of other remaining animals.
No further information has been released.
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