Authorities discovered 46 animals, half of them dead, in a New Bedford, Massachusetts, home on Wednesday night (video below).
Police said they had received complaints about a bad odor coming from the home, where they discovered a menagerie of animals, including dogs, cats, rabbits, lizards, birds and chinchillas. Those that were still alive were severely malnourished, and a few were being kept in cages alongside dead animals.
The animals’ owners, Jake Brousseau, 24, and Sabrina Harding, 23, have been arrested on charges of animal cruelty and ordered to undergo mental health evaluations.
New Bedford Animal Control Director Emanuel Maciel said that the pair got the animals on Craigslist and at auctions from people who could no longer take care of their pets.
“They basically used people,” he said. “These people made their animals suffer in a terrible death ... a lack of food, lack of water. It was awful.”
The investigation has expanded to a site in Tiverton, Rhode Island, where Harding leased property behind a burned home.
Special agent Joseph W. Warzycha, head of the Rhode Island investigation, said officials have found several dead animals at that property, including seven chickens, two ducks and the partial skeleton of what is believed to have been a llama.
Some animals were still alive at the property, including two goats, a llama and some fowl, although they lacked access to food and water.
Harding has a 4-year-old daughter who doesn’t live with her but has been to the New Bedford home.