Authorities discovered more than 85 emaciated and sick dogs and cats stuffed into cages inside a small New Jersey apartment on May 27.
Local officials say this may be one of the worst animal cruelty cases they’ve seen, the Daily Mail reports.
According to officials, the animals looked “emaciated and filthy.”
“Almost half of them were in grave condition with severe dehydration, emaciated, ringworm and the herpes virus, which causes severe respiratory infection,” veterinarian Dr. Nurhan Ezik said. “They were really bad. It was so sad.”
Some of the animals had to be put down because their ailments were too severe to be saved, according to Ezik. When the surviving animals are better, officials say they will put them for adoption.
The dogs and cats were described as living in “deplorable conditions."
“The stench of death is all over the room," an official said, WABC reports.
Animal control officers searched the home after a neighbor complained about its smell.
"I always had a smell that would come into our unit since the walls meet, but the last few days it was like something died," said Tanya Rodriguez, a neighbor. "It was unbearable,"
When officials arrived, they found cages with sometimes as many as 10 animals stuck inside from floor to ceiling, and a few dogs in a closet.
"I have never seen animals floor to ceiling, with someone's bed, someone sleeping in that room," said Dr. Gina Miranda-Diaz of West New York Health Department.
"I don't have words for the poor animals," Diaz added. "It's heartbreaking."
A mother and daughter have been arrested, while police continue to look for more suspects. They believe a third woman may be involved.
“We believe it's a hoarding situation," humane officer Geoffrey Santini said. "They try to save one, and one leads to five and then to 10."
“That bedroom was a house of horrors,” he added, referring to it as the worst case he's seen during his 20 years on the job, WNBC reports.