Fourteen animals, abandoned in a horse trailer, have been rescued in Monteagle.
Officials with the Animal Rescue Corps, a national animal protection nonprofit, helped the Monteagle Police Department rescue the cats and dogs on Thursday.
The 14 animals were found in the horse trailer that was left attached to a U-Haul box truck behind a restaurant in Marion County.
Reports stated authorities with the police department seized the animals.
Police had visited the property after a call about the animals from the owner of the restaurant.
Eight small dogs, one large dog, and five cats were found in makeshift pens and reportedly filthy stacked cages.
Officials said the trailer was filled with “urine and feces soaked cardboard and soiled cat litter.” There was also a smell of ammonia gas from the animal waste.
The trailer was first noticed on Monday, and those with the restaurant said they believe it was parked and left there sometime on Sunday night.
“It’s obvious from the way the trailer is set up that this is the only home they have had for some time,” said ARC Director of Investigations, Amy Haverstick. “There were no doors or openings on these cages and we had to use bolt-cutters to get them free.”
Employees with the restaurant provided food and water after discovering the animals trapped in the trailer.
Reports stated the person responsible for abandoning the animals had not been located.
Authorities confirmed all animals showed signs of “chronic neglect, including emaciation, tumors, dehydration, intestinal worms, external parasites, runny eyes, overgrown nails, and alopecia.”
The U-Haul was full of household items; however, the license plates had been removed from the trailer.
"I suspect someone had just run out of options," said Police Chief Virgil McNeece, of the Monteagle Police Department. “They simply walked away."
The case has been called “Operation Mountain Angels” by the ARC, and they confirmed they’ve documented all animals and evidence. That will help them support any criminal charges if the person responsible can be located.
The animals were being taken to an emergency shelter in Lebanon where they will receive thorough veterinary exams, vaccinations, and medical treatment.
Once they have been deemed ready, the animals will be transferred to shelters and rescue organizations to be adopted into loving homes. You can follow the ARC on Facebook to stay up-to-date with the animals.