Police in Edgewater, Florida, found three children living alongside 245 animals in “deplorable” conditions after conducting a wellness check over the weekend.
The City of Edgewater Police Department said in a social media post that officers were dispatched to the home on Sunday to conduct a “well-being check of three juveniles.” Once they arrived, officers found the children — who are all girls, ages 8, 9 and 10 — in what authorities described as “deplorable living conditions.”
“It was immediately evident neither the children, nor the animals were being cared for properly,” the police said.
During the investigation, police said they found four dogs, two cats, nine guinea pigs (and one more that was deceased in a cage), 12 rabbits, four hamsters, 10 sugar gliders, 14 birds, one gecko, one tortoise, one hedgehog, seven bearded dragons, one leopard gecko, 95 mice, 60 adult rats and 23 baby rats.
Officers also said they observed rotting food, animal feces and urine “throughout” the home.
According to police, three defendants — Melissa Hamilton, Greg Nelson and Susan Nelson — will be charged with three counts of child abuse and 66 counts of animal cruelty.
The children were removed from the residence by the Florida Department of Children and Families and placed with a responsible family member, police said. Meanwhile, police and the Edgewater Animal Control removed the animals from the home and brought them to a local animal shelter.
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According to the Washington Post, Greg called the police for the wellness check after he broke up with Susan, his wife, and Hamilton, his live-in girlfriend, and Susan wouldn’t allow him to take his three daughters with him.
Greg is currently in the custody of the Edgewater police, while Susan was taken to the Volusia County Branch Jail with no bond, according to the Post. Hamilton, meanwhile, was reportedly taken to a local facility for treatment after making a suicide attempt.
The case is still under investigation, according to the Post.