Lauderdale County couple charged in hoarding case; more than 200 animals found on their property

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LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – A Shoals couple has been jailed on charges of animal cruelty.  The remains of several horses were found on their property late Thursday evening by authorities who were investigating a citizen complaint.

Deputies say the couple had more than 200 animals on the Central Heights property, all of which have been seized by animal control officers.

The seizure started first thing Friday morning, and WHNT News 19 was there to document the deplorable conditions the animals were living in.

Cobwebs and dust covered the cages of more than 150 rabbits kept in a building on the rented property of Laura Fitterman Sherwood in Central Heights.  Not only was the building in horrific shape, authorities say the home Sherwood shared with her husband Pat might have been even worse on the inside.

Deputies say more than a dozen dogs were being kept in cages, next to totes full of mice and hamsters.

“It’s another case of hoarding and we’ve seen another recently as you know,” said Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly. “It’s just another one of those cases that are unfortunately becoming more and more common.”

Connolly says 25 horses, a few donkeys, and a couple of llamas were being kept in a pasture behind the home.  He says most of the horses will be able to be rehabilitated from the rain rot and malnourishment they have experienced.

However, deputies say they will have to put down at least one of the horses due to a leg injury which was never treated by a veterinarian.

“The idea is that we want to get those animals, and if they can be saved we are going to save them,” said Connolly. “And again, we’ve got resources fortunately to do that now. But yes, we’ve locked those folks up and we’ll be holding them accountable for what they’ve done.”

The Sherwoods have been charged with aggravated cruelty to animals and 15 counts of cruelty to animals.  Pat Sherwood has also been charged with failing to register as a sex offender after moving to Lauderdale County from Tennessee.  Both are being held in the Lauderdale County Detention Center.

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