Two individuals in New Jersey, Brandon Leconey, 32, and Rebeccah Halbach, 35, have been arrested on charges of animal cruelty and child endangerment after a horrifying discovery was made at their residence in Evesham Township. Police found a 9-year-old child living in deplorable conditions surrounded by dozens of dead foster dogs. The couple is believed to have been accepting money from animal rescue groups to care for the dogs, but instead, they pocketed the funds and allowed the animals to starve to death.
The distressing scene was uncovered on Monday when a witness reported seeing several malnourished and ill dogs around the property. After speaking with Leconey and Halbach, police were able to gain access to their home and were met with a sight that can only be described as despicable. Inside, they discovered over 30 deceased canines, while 14 dogs were found alive, struggling to survive. Nine of the surviving dogs were in such poor health that they had to be transported to a local animal hospital. Additionally, there were numerous cats and rabbits present in the residence.
The extent of the animal cruelty becomes even more horrifying as investigators believe that up to 100 dogs may have died in the home, with some buried on the property. Evesham Township Police Chief Walt Miller described the situation, stating, "There's dogs in cages. Live dogs in cages, dead dogs in cages. Dead animals throughout the house." He also mentioned the discovery of a burial spot behind the home, where a large number of decomposing dogs were found.
Amidst this nauseating pet cemetery, authorities made another heartbreaking discovery-a 9-year-old child. Due to the hazardous and unsanitary living conditions, the child was removed from the home and is now in the custody of the New Jersey Division of Child Protection & Permanency. Chief Miller expressed his concern for the child, stating, "It's definitely concerning having a 9-year-old child living in this home, sleeping in this home, eating in this home."
The investigation was initiated after a North Carolina animal rescue grew suspicious about the well-being of the dogs they had entrusted to Halbach and Leconey. The rescue organization, Tender Mercies Pet Organization, sent a representative to their home to assess the situation, who promptly contacted the police upon witnessing the dire conditions.
Two dogs belonging to Tender Mercies Pet Organization have since been safely retrieved from the couple's custody. Authorities are currently searching the home for additional evidence, and it is expected that animal cruelty charges will be filed once the final count of deceased dogs is determined.
Leconey has been booked at the Burlington County Jail awaiting a detention hearing, while Halbach is currently undergoing a medical evaluation for an unrelated condition. Once cleared for incarceration, she will be transferred to jail. The police continue to gather evidence, and further charges may be added as the investigation progresses.
This disturbing case of animal cruelty and child endangerment has shocked the community and serves as a reminder of the importance of vigilant oversight when it comes to the care and treatment of animals in foster homes.
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