HAWKINS COUNTY, Tenn. - Hawkins County deputies say they found dozens of animals in unsafe conditions at a Hawkins County home during a routine call.
Deputies responded to the home after the owner called 911, claiming to hear explosions and seeing people standing outside.
Deputies tell us they didn't see anything the owner claimed, but they found 51 animals. "She doesn't have running water in there. The bathroom isn't being utilized, it's just on the floor or in pots," says neighbor Theresa Lockhart.
Theresa Lockhart lives beside the home; she tells us this has been an ongoing problem. "[The owner] collected animals, and it's been going on for a number of years. It seems that it gets to a point and then they are taken away from here, then she collects even more," she said.
Hawkins County Humane Society animal shelter manager Vanessa Collins tells us on top of the 51 animals rescued, they found 15 dead inside the home. "In several of the bird cages there were actually dead birds in the bottom. Some were laying in the food bowl, some in the water bowl," she said.
Collins says the animals weren't all dogs and cats -- they also found rats, geckos, birds, and rabbits. "The rats, the geckos, and the birds didn't have a drop of food or water in their cages," she said. "I honestly don't know how they are alive."
Collins tells us the variety of animals is making it difficult on the shelter, and they're in need of supplies. "We've got crates everywhere. We've got the rats in an aquarium, and the geckos in aquariums. It's just kind of sitting around, so we're definitely in need of crates," she said.
Meanwhile, neighbor Theresa Lockhart tells us she's not only concerned about the animals, but also the owner. "She has a [medical] condition and it needs some attention. I don't think there is any family in the area, so then it's left to us as the community to help her," she said.
Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson tells us the homeowner was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
No charges have been filed, but the investigation is ongoing.
Shelter manager Vanessa Collins tells us she's thankful for the Hawkins County Sheriff's Office and Judge Ross for their quick actions to save the animals.
To find out how to donate to the shelter, click here for more information.