OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. (WALA) - A Crestview couple charged with child neglect has been released from jail on bond. According to the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office, they had children - including an infant - living in deplorable conditions with thousands of insects all over the home, and all over them.
The evening of Monday, July 29, Molly the white bulldog ate a nourishing meal for the first time in who knows how long.
Deputies said she was removed from a home in the 2900 block of Aplin Road, where she was found Saturday, July 27 emaciated and tied to a tree. She was taken along with Scooter the ferret, Sunshine the German shepherd and a dachshund puppy suffering from a bad case of ringworm.
Molly suffers from heart, hook and whipworms, and has several large tumors on her body, including swelling on top of her head from various injuries.
"From what I've heard from the deputy and from my officer, the animals were actually better taken care of than the children were," said Dee Thompson of the Panhandle Animals Welfare Society (PAWS).
That's because deputies said behind the walls of that Crestview home lies the stench of vomit, disrepair and filth. Thousands of cockroaches, spiders, and ants are crawling on the walls, floor and ceiling.
Deputies said an infant in a makeshift crib was found with roaches crawling on it.
There were no working toilets, and there was only spoiled formula in the baby's bassinet.
The conditions led to the arrest of Justina and David Rush, both charged with child neglect.
One person FOX10 News talked with didn't want to give his name but identified himself as Justina's uncle. He came to her defense.
"She takes real good care of her kids," he said. "She keeps them clean, dressed, fed well, everything. She doesn't mistreat them."
FOX10 News asked the man if he would describe the conditions in that house as livable for a child or a pet.
"Yeah I would," he said. "I mean, it's not the best in the world, but it's all they can afford right now. There are a lot of [children] out there in worse shape than this."
Other relatives weren't so media friendly when we asked for a comment on the charges, asking us to leave the premises. We were not allowed in the home to see the conditions for ourselves.
James Feagin was also present in the home and taken into custody. Deputies said he was growing marijuana, which he attempted to swallow when he was spotted.
According to jail records, Feagin has been booked more than 20 times since 2000.
The animals will remain at PAWS though the court process and could go up for adoption when healthy. That is unless the suspects can prove they're fit to own them.
The children were removed from the home by the Department of Children and Families.
FOX10 News asked OCSO for pictures from inside the home. That request was denied.
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