Three adults face child abuse and animal cruelty charges after officials in Florida discovered three young girls living in a “deplorable” home with 245 animals, police said.
While conducting a welfare check, authorities found 83 rats, a hedgehog, seven bearded dragons and nine Guinea pigs, one of which was dead, in the home, according to police in the city of Edgewater, east of Orlando.
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“It was immediately evident that neither the children nor the animals were being cared for properly,” police said.
In addition to the dead Guinea pig, police said officers also found rotting food, animal feces and urine throughout the home.
Three adults are facing three counts of child abuse and 66 counts of animal cruelty.
The department identified them as Greg Nelson, Susan Nelson and Melissa Hamilton. Hamilton was not in custody, though the statement said her “whereabouts are known.”
NBC affiliate WESH identified Greg Nelson and Susan Nelson as the parents of the girls, ages 8, 9 and 10. The station reported that Hamilton is their girlfriend.
The children were placed with a relative and the animals were taken to a local shelter, police said.
Authorities were seeking donations to help care for both.
WESH reported that Greg Nelson was taken to a hospital with chest pains. It wasn't immediately clear if he, or the other charged adults have lawyers.
Tim Stelloh is a reporter for NBC News, based in California.