SUMMERDALE, Ala. (WALA) - Hundreds of animals have been found dead or malnourished inside a local animal rescue facility.
It was so bad inside that some of the animals were eating the dead animals.
And if that's not bad enough, investigators said food was found right outside of the kennels.
On Thursday night, police officers stormed into the Purple Hearted Puppies Animal shelter in Summerdale. They were on a rescue mission.
Officials said inside were more than 200 dogs, cats, and horses which had gone without food and water for two weeks.
Throughout the complex spanning six acres, cats and dogs were crowded into cages, and some went to extreme measures for survival.
A Summerdale police officer pointed at an empty cage and said, "There was a Chihuahua in there, and it was eating the Terrier trying to stay alive."
The Executive Director of the Baldwin County Humane Society Sonja Presely said, "Most disconcerting, there are cases of dog food that was sitting outside the kennels."
On a bag of food, claw marks were clearly seen where cats desperately tried to open it.
Outside, dogs resorted to eating grass and digging holes to allow water to pool, so they had something to drink.
Inside a house on the property, more animals found living in squalor.
A police officer told Fox10 News that they found female dog that was malnourished, but her puppies seemed to be healthy. The officer speculated that the mother dog sacrificed her own needs to save her puppies.
Many of the animals were found lying on their own feces. Some had to drink their own urine.
One dog was found in a pool of blood.
The owners of the facility were Roberta Dueitt and her daughter, Sharon Dueitt, the two were arrested and each charged with 20 counts of animal cruelty, but police said they could face around 40 to 50 charges.
The owners told investigators they had left the facility in the care of a staff member.
Officers are currently looking for him.
"When you have animals eating animals to survive with $5,000 worth of dog food and plenty of water here, that's about as sorry as you could get to walk off and leave these animals here," Summerdale Police Chief Eddie Ingram said.
The Dueitts told investigators they actually came to the property on Wednesday, but they didn't look inside. They said they wanted to make sure the animals didn't create holes in the fences.
The Dueitts said they believed the animals were inside and doing fine.
An investigator we spoke with said somebody knew what was going on here. In one corner, police described finding dog carcasses stacked on each other.
But there was more; Robertsdale police were called out to the Dueitt residence on Adams Acres Road.
Officers had to remove 27 dogs, cats and goats that were malnourished and abandoned.
Three kittens were found dead. And once again, officers said cans and bags of food were everywhere.
"Most of the water from the toilets have already been drank out of," Investigator Rex Bishop with the Robertsdale Police Department said.
All of the animals have been removed and are being treated by veterinarians. Rescue officials said some animals may not survive.
The Dueitts already face charges out of Summerdale, and now they will face more charges out of Robertsdale. And police said the district attorney is getting involved to see if some of these charges can be upgraded to felonies.
At this time, the Dueitts have bonded out, but Robertsdale Police are obtaining warrants for their arrests.
Sharon Dueitt wrote this on her Facebook page:
"I think it time everyone heard mine and my mothers side.
First off I didnt know the animals was in that bad shape I had people working for me people who I thought I could trust and who called me daily telling me he and his wife been taking care of the [animals].
I had no reason to doubt him and his wife.
I [didn't] run off I was sick so was my mother with the stomach flu.
My worker told me not to worry... he take care of everything for me to rest and take care off my mother who is already in bad health..
Believe me if I knew half of it, if someone would have told me I wouldve been there on my death bed taking care of the animals..
My heart and soul are animals, I NEVER WOULDVE HAVE HEARED ANIMAL IN MY LIFE..
I trusted someone else who gave me his word that he was taking care of them.
No one wants to listen to me and my mother.
Please hear our of the story for you all judge us."
Police on the scene however, said the Dueitt's story did not check out.
"Their excuse to us was that a man was supposed to come out here and feed them. We spoke with the man; he quit three weeks ago. He's also got voicemail and evidence he's collected where they knew he wasn't here. He wasn't around," Dennis said.
Investigators said this case of abuse was different than most.
They said the Dueitt's had the resources to care for these animals.
"The food had been preposition in front of the kennel, and when I say prepositional I mean pushed up on the kennel. The dogs could literally put their paws on it. There was just nobody here
to open the cans and dump the food in," Dennis said.
Vets and animal rescue groups have been on-site since the discovery, Thursday evening.
Police said the Dueitt's could face even more charges of animal cruelty as officials said they'll have to euthanize several more animals.
BARC! Dog Adoption was called in to help take care of the animals. It will be looking for suitable homes starting Friday morning. They are also asking for donations to help with the care. You can make a donation online here .
Officials said RedRover, formerly United Animal Nations, is helping with the animals. The organization's website says they are a recognized leader in providing emergency sheltering, disaster relief and financial assistance for animals in crisis.
The Sacramento, California-based nonprofit was founded in 1987 and is changing its name to RedRover to better reflect its work to bring animals from crisis to care and to strengthen the common bond between people and animals, says President and CEO Nicole Forsyth.
The Humane Society of the United States will also be on-site to assist.
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