HIALEAH, Fla. - Police are calling it a case of "extreme animal cruelty" and rescue groups tell Local 10 it is one of the worst hoarding cases they've ever seen.
A Hialeah couple has been charged with animal abuse after dozens of animals were found inside their townhome.
Hialeah police arrested Ileana Arnais and Rubin Dario Arrojo and charged them with 34 felony counts of animal cruelty.
- PHOTOS: Animals found in Hialeah home
"Severe neglect is a dreadful form of animal cruelty," said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. "These animals were suffering in some ghastly circumstances, lacking food, water, medical attention, living in unsanitary conditions and confined to small spaces. This is a textbook example of neglect."
On Thursday morning, authorities began removing the animals from the home.
When rescue crews first arrived, they pulled 34 dogs from the home, which is why Arnais and Arrojo are facing 34 felony counts of animal cruelty.
But when rescuers came back, they found another 40 dogs. That means the couple could face even more charges.
Some of the pups were hard to spot at first because they are tiny -- about 3 pounds -- and were hiding in closets and under furniture.
Investigators say they were tipped off to the situation after Arnais sought outside help to temporarily move or relocate some of the animals on the premises. They say the person Arnais contacted was shocked by the condition of the animals and called police.
Officers say they found dogs, cats, turtles, birds, chickens, even a hedgehog and a pig in the town house believed to be just 1100 square feet.
Arnais and Arrojo, her husband, live there with their 26-year-old son.
Police and rescue groups say the animals never left the house, which means there were piles of feces everywhere, including the couple's bed, where 20 dogs also slept.
Excrement was matted to the fur of the dozens of dogs and cats pulled from the home. Police say there was no power to the refrigerator, no food in the home for people or the animals. They also didn't see any bowls of water. Many of the animals are sick and have infections because rescuers think they were eating their own feces to stay alive.
Roaches and maggots were just about everywhere.
Police say the couple seemed surprised when the search warrant was executed Thursday morning, and they don't think they were doing anything wrong.
Their 26-year-old son is still in the home and plans to stay there with two dogs, fish and the hedgehog.
Cire Leslie from A Better Life Rescue found a common theme, too. Many of the animal had light-colored eyes. She thinks the couple must have been fascinated by light eyes and were perhaps inbreeding them which would explain the numerous deformities they found.
Vets think animals will recover
It took rescuers nearly six hours to get all of the animals out of the home.
Several vets are helping the rescue group care for the animals, including Dr. Matt Cooper of Sky Lake Animal Hospital in Miami.
"These animals have been in horrific conditions," said Dr. Cooper.
Dr. Cooper was optimistic that with some care, most of the animals will be fine.
"They're all pretty socialized, which is, you know, great," he added.
Three of the animals had to be euthanized.
If you are interested in adopting any of the rescued animals contact A Better Life Rescue 305-978-0059 or Get a Life Rescue 954-629-2445.
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