Dozens of dogs, mostly Dachshunds and Chihuahuas ranging from a few days old to elderly were rescued from a home after it caught fire.
They were taken to a Montgomery County Animal Shelter. The crates they have been placed in are not a far cry from where they came from.
"Just piles and piles of trash everywhere, up to your knee. You had to be very careful where you walked. There were feces all over the floor, feces on children's clothing. It was just deplorable conditions," said Animal Control Director Jeanette Farrell.
Farrell was one of the first on the scene after fire crews responded to a home on East Bel Air Blvd Saturday. A fire started in one of the bedrooms and when first responders entered the home they found dozens of eyes starring back at them.
"We took 54 dogs, two geckos and then there were the four dogs that perished in the fire along with six birds and then a whole bunch of fish," Farrell explained.
Farrell said this was a prime example of an illegal breeding operation and why licensing is important. "We're not against breeding. It's going to be done, we know that but we do at least want to be able to regulate it so situations like this don't occur," said Farrell.
Many of the dogs are elderly and have congenital problems like heart murmurs. The responsibility to take care of them falls on animal control. "There's no emergency fund, so it will deplete our budget and we'll just have to try to deal with it at the end of the fiscal year," said Farrell.
Meanwhile, she has worked with the D.A. to prosecute the dog owner. "It's an unfortunate situation that the fire did occur however that has nothing to do with the state that the animals were kept in," said Farrell.
Officials planned to place the animals in foster homes eventually. Animal control is looking for volunteers, to help contact the department at 931-648-5750.