Florida woman charged with neglect after small child found in home infested with 300 rats
A woman in Florida has been arrested after she was allegedly found living with a child and hundreds of animals in squalor.
Police in Citrus County, Florida, said they received an animal cruelty report directing them to the home of Shannon Marie Morgan, 38, on Wednesday, according to Fox affiliate WTVT-TV.
Responding officers were overwhelmed by the smell of ammonia when they entered the home. Inside, they found numerous cages and aquariums that housed snakes and rodents. Rats and cats were also found loose wandering the home.
According to police, the animals were not well cared for, and buildups of fecal matter and urine — likely the cause of the strong ammonia stench — had caused an infestation of roaches and other insects.
Police also allegedly found trash, used dishes, and rotten food scattered around the home. The old food and refuse had also attracted bugs into the home.
BEVERLY HILLS WOMAN ARRESTED ON 12 ANIMAL CRUELTY CHARGES AND CHILD NEGLECT pic.twitter.com/GiPiQhUMAn
— Sheriff Citrus (@SheriffCitrus) December 9, 2022
As they continued to search, police eventually found a young child in a bedroom surrounded by insect-infested trash.
More than 300 rats were found wandering the home freely, and another 50 were locked in cages. Blood was reportedly found in one room, which police said was the aftermath of a cat killing and eating one of the rats.
Ms Morgan was arrested at the scene and has been charged with 12 counts of animal cruelty and one count of child neglect. Her bond was set at $26,000.
Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast told the outlet that "abuse of any kind should not be tolerated."
"The conditions of this residence and the animals in this case were so bad, sheriff’s office personnel were cautioned about making entry," he said. "Neither children nor animals should ever endure this type of environment."