UPDATE: 11:30 am Friday
The Madison County Sheriff's Office issued an arrest warrant for a woman charged with 12 counts of animal cruelty.
Investigators said they believe the woman may be in the Bedias area.
UPDATE: 2:30 pm Thursday
After investigating, Madison County authorities have determined that Cassandra Metzger is no longer a person of interest in this case.
Investigators said they confirmed that Metzger has not lived in the home for a few months and has been living in Alabama.
MADISON COUNTY, Texas— Madison County law enforcement is calling it the worst case of animal cruelty they’ve ever seen.
The owners of the house abandoned at least 19 dogs and other animals in deplorable conditions after they were evicted.
And, now authorities said a mother and daughter are being charged with animal cruelty after leaving all those animals behind.
Dawn Knight said she got the call late Friday night to assist with an emergency situation in Madison County.
The Madison County Sheriff’s Office asked Knight and a team of volunteers from the animal rescue Rufus Refuge to help with the situation off Bankhead Road in Madison County where authorities said were many abandoned animals.
“We had no idea what we were coming in to,” said Knight.
And, what she did find was heartbreaking.
At least 19 dogs abandoned in the house with no food, just dirty bowls of water.
One of those dogs greeted the volunteers at the door. Knight said she had a huge mass hanging from her stomach.
“It was two or three times the size of her head. I’m not ever sure how she was walking,” said Knight.
That was one of 12 dogs saved from the house—eight of those dogs didn’t survive.
Madison County Authorities said the homeowners, Deborah Zortman and her daughter Cassandra Metzger had been evicted days before.
Sgt. Tyler Ogle said they interviewed neighbors who told them they’d seen Zortman moving her things out of the house two to three days before help arrived for the animals.
Ogle has responded to other calls at the house, the last one two to three years ago.
He said the calls weren’t for animal cruelty, mainly for loose livestock, and the house never looked as bad as it does now.
“I mean that house is going to have to be literally torn down. There's nobody going to ever live in that residence again,” said Ogle.
Ogle said the District Attorney was moving forward with charges of animal cruelty against both Zortman and Metzger—up to 19 for each, one for each of the animals left behind.
“I mean it's pretty cut and dry as far as animal cruelty is concerned,” said Ogle.
“This is probably the one of the nastiest houses and animal cruelty cases that we've seen here in a long time,” said Ogle.
Neither Zortman nor Metzger have been arrested yet. Ogle said they may be in Louisiana.
Knight said the rescued dogs are in bad shape and needed emergency veterinarian care. She said most of them were starved and had mange.
Knight never got a diagnosis from the dog that had the huge mass on her stomach. After naming her Bette, the dog passed away Sunday night.
The surviving dogs will continue with medical care, and then Rufus Refuge will find foster families for the dogs until they can be adopted.
If you’d like to help with cost of medical care for the dogs, follow this link.