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During Animal Abuse Investigation, Deputies Find Toddler in Cage

An 18-month-old boy was rescued last week from a Tennessee home where he was kept in a cage in close proximity to multiple large constricting snakes.
More than 600 animals were also rescued from the property, officials said.
The trailer home in Henry County, Tennessee, was raided on Thursday, according to WTVF-TV.
The child’s mother, 42-year-old Heather Scarbough, his stepfather, 46-year-old Thomas Jefferson Brown, and Brown’s father, 82-year-old Charles Brown, face “felony charges of aggravated child abuse and aggravated cruelty to animals, possession of a firearm while committing another felony, manufacturing marijuana, drug paraphernalia” and cruelty to animals, according to WZTV.

Henry County Sheriff Monte Belew told reporters that officers were alerted to animal abuse on the property, but said when they arrived, they found a surprise — a boy in the type of cage that might be used to kennel a dog.
“In a single-wide trailer in the living room you’ve got a kid caged, you’ve got eight snakes and you’ve got the snakes’ feed butted up against the child’s cage,” Belew said. “Eight snakes in the same room, then mice running everywhere.”
The child, who was filthy but unharmed, was placed in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, he said.
Belew said a 10-foot-long constricting snake was in the trailer with the child.
“It could’ve easily suffocated that child if it got a chance,” he said, according to the Jackson Sun.
“It was heartbreaking to see the conditions this child was living in,” Belew added. “There was nothing for that baby in the entire house outside of the cage he was in. All his toys were in there with him.
“There were no other toys, no crib, no blankets for him. It appeared he spent most if not all his time in the cage, and the ammonia smell that came up when we lifted the cage and the bugs that were under it makes it appear as if he stayed in there a lot,” he said.
In addition to the multiple large snakes, the cage was found near a box of live mice, police said.
Of the more than 600 animals taken from the property, 531 were mice, rats or hamsters, according to Belew.
“We don’t know what purpose mice, rats and hamsters were serving — they could’ve been food for the snakes or they could’ve been for sale purposes — but this was definitely an unusual situation,” he said.
“I’m all for you living your life how you see fit, because we’re free to do that,” Belew said. “But the conditions of this home were definitely out of the norm, and the child and the animals needed to be removed from the area.”
Garbage and old food was found throughout the property.
“There was trash and food on top of the cage,” Belew said. “And you can tell when a child is starving and hungry, and he was starving. He needed to be out of there, and the animals did, too.”
Police found 127 marijuana plants and 17 guns on the property, Belew said.
During the raid, authorities also discovered 56 dogs, 86 chickens or roosters, three cats and several birds.

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