Florida police rescued three children and nearly 250 animals Sunday from what they called “deplorable living conditions” on Sunday and say they’re charging the three adults involved with 3 counts of child abuse and 66 counts of animal cruelty.
The Edgewater Police Department said that it found the situation while responding to a request for a wellness check on three juveniles. And it was the girls’ father, who lived at the home with his wife and live-in girlfriend, who made the call, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
The News Journal said that Gregg Nelson, 57, called police early Sunday afternoon and said he wanted to end his relationship with both his wife, Susan Nelson, 43, and girlfriend, Melissa Hamilton, 49, and take his children from the home he felt was uninhabitable. When police arrived, they agreed, finding the home “in deplorable living conditions,” according to the police statement.
“I have been to many bad houses but that is probably the worst house I’ve ever entered,” said Edgewater police Chief Joe Mahoney on Monday. “I felt bad for the little girls. It’s just sad.”
The home stank of urine and feces, rotting food was in the refrigerator, and some rooms were ankle-deep in garbage.
While police were there, Gregg Nelson complained of chest pains and was taken to a hospital, while Hamilton told officers she’d taken 17 Xanax in a suicide attempt. She, too, was taken to a hospital.
The girls, aged 8, 9, and 10, were taken by the Department of Children and Families and placed with another family member. The police department said it was accepting donations for the children.
The animals — including four dogs, two cats, nine guinea pigs, 12 rabbits, four hamsters, 10 sugar gliders, 14 birds, one gecko, one tortoise, one hedgehog, seven bearded dragons, one leopard spotted gecko, 95 mice, 60 adult rats and 23 baby rats — were taken to the Edgewater Animal Shelter, which worked all day and night to provide care, raise money, and find foster homes for the the animals.
Amanda Leclair, the managing veterinarian of the Edgewater Animal Shelter, said it appeared that the adults had been running a breeding operation.
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[Featured images: Edgewater Police Department]