Police investigate animal cruelty after house fire

Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 3:51 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 19, 2021 at 9:46 AM CST
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CARAWAY, Ark. (KAIT) - Caraway police are investigating a case of animal cruelty that officials say they discovered after a fire Thursday afternoon.

According to Police Chief Shannon Kelems, officers went to a fire in the Craighead County town.

Once there, firefighters heard animals crying inside.

The officers kicked the door in and found several animals covered in feces and in horrible condition, Kelems said.

At least seven dogs died in the fire, he said. Ten other animals were released to the local humane society.

Rhonda Qualls, an animal welfare investigator with the Northeast Arkansas Humane Society, described the scene as shocking.

“This is one of those cases where this is one of the worst cases I have seen in a while,” said Qualls.

The chief said they are still trying to catch some cats. The Humane Society will return to the property to put out traps.

Kelems said charges are possible but the case is still under investigation.

Qualls said the animals were fed, but the condition they lived in was very concerning.

“I would call it a significant hoarding situation with trash and stuff like that as well as the animals,” said Qualls. “The animals were living in quite a bit of filth.”

The Society shared pictures of the animals and the area they were living in on their social media pages. They mentioned the crates had at least eight inches of feces in the bottom of each one.

“It was very important that we get the animals out of the situation that they were in and get them in a cleaner, healthy environment,” she said.

Kelems said the cause of the fire may be linked to a heater.

The owner of the property was not present on Thursday.

Region 8 News will have more details as they become available.

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