HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — David Hendrix, 57, of Hendersonville was charged with nine counts of aggravated animal cruelty after nine dogs were found inside his pitch black home where the floors were caked in inches of feces and compacted with trash and bones of other dead dogs, according to police.
According to an affidavit obtained by News 2, a neighbor had complained to the city codes department about an infestation of large rats at the home on Savely Drive, overgrown shrubbery, concerns the dogs were not being cared for, and a foul odor coming from the property that was consistent with something being dead.
When a codes officer arrived at the home, Hendrix told him there were around 10 dogs inside and that some of them might be dead, the affidavit said.
Hendrix added no one had lived in the home for four to five years, the dogs had not been outside during that time, and he was feeding the dogs through a crack in the door. Hendrix then told the officer, “I’m sorry for what you’re going to see,” and mentioned he would be going to jail, according to court records.
When Hendersonville police detectives asked Hendrix why he didn’t render aid to the dogs he thought might be dead, Hendrix responded that he could not get to them because of the other dogs in the home, according to the affidavit.
Hendrix added he and his wife “take the best care of [the dogs] that they can,” according to records.
Animal Rescue Corps, the group that took in the dogs, said the animals have multiple health conditions, including ammonia exposure, pressure wounds, eye and ear infections, and one of the dogs was completely blind, likely due to the ammonia exposure.
In addition, some of the dogs appeared to have just given birth, but rescuers could not find their puppies on the property.
“I’ve been in this job 18 years, and this is probably one of the worst conditions I’ve ever seen,” said Lt. Jimmy Garrett, Hendersonville Police Department.
Neighbors told News 2 they noticed the outside of the home was unkempt, but they had no reason to believe any kind of alleged abuse or neglect was occurring inside because it was always quiet.
“Even if you don’t have animals, you’d just be horrified at the state of the place, and it makes you wonder what causes somebody to just completely neglect the whole thing and their animals,” Dana Ziegler, a neighbor said.
The dogs were taken to ARC’s center in Gallatin where they will receive care and eventually be adopted.
However, neighbors are worried about the rats and other potential health hazards still inside the home.
“When these rats leave the ship, where are they going to go?” Ziegler said. “They’re roof rats, they can get into the attic, and if they’re poisoned, they’re carrying that poison around, and dogs and cats are very vulnerable to that, so we’re very concerned and we want something done.”
Ziegler told News 2 that she reached out to the city and is waiting to hear back.
Hendrix was taken to the Sumner County jail Thursday and has since bonded out, according to officials.
Hendersonville police said before getting a dog, make sure you can take care of it. If you’re unable to, there are many resources that could help, including your local police department or the Humane Society.