A toddler has been found locked in a cage after police were called to a home to investigate animal cruelty allegations.
Officers arrived at a property in Henry County, in the US state of Tennessee, on Thursday morning (local time) after reports of possible animal abuse.
When they arrived at the mobile home, deputies discovered a one-year-old boy in a filthy cage surrounded by toys inside.
Henry County Sheriff Monte Belew told US news outlet WPSD it appeared the toddler was kept in the cage often, and the boy was found with a full nappy and some rashes on his body.
"The shocking thing of it is throughout the whole trailer, there's no toys, there's no blankets, there's no anything. Everything that child possessed or played with was in this kennel," he said.
The cage was kept near rats, mice, and eight snakes, including a three-metre-long boa constrictor less than 10 metres away from the boy.
Faeces, urine and cockroaches were found inside the cage and surrounding the cage. Hundreds of animals were also kept on the property.
"I can't believe people can actually can actually survive and live in these unliveable conditions," Sheriff Belew said.
"With all the law enforcement years of experience up here, it's hard to find something that actually shocks us. It's hard to find something that will shock my conscience, that says, 'Oh my God, I've never seen this before’.”
The toddler was removed from the home and placed into the care of the Department of Children’s Services.
Three people were arrested at the property including the boy’s mother Heather Scarbrough, 42, and her 46-year-old boyfriend, Thomas Brown.
An 82-year-old, Charles Brown, was also found in the home and taken into police custody.
The following day police executed a search warrant on the property where 127 marijuana plants and 17 guns were seized, according to WPSD.
More than 600 animals were taken into care including 56 dogs, 86 chickens, 10 rabbits, eight snakes, four parakeets, three cats, three sugar gliders, one pheasant, a gecko, and 531 mice, rats and hamsters.
There were also dead animals on the property, Sheriff Belew said.
The three suspects remain in country jail and are facing charges of aggravated child abuse, several animal cruelty charges, manufacturing marijuana and possession of firearms.
Thomas also faces charges of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
District Attorney Matt Stowe told WPSD the conviction of aggravated child abuse alone carries between 15 to 25 years in prison and other charges were still being determined.
Mr Stowe said they would be “too numerous to list”.
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