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BCSO: Two people in custody for animal cruelty after finding several starving dogs

James Cardona, 43, and Rebecca Bennett, 47, were both charged with aggravated cruelty to animals and eight counts of cruelty to animals.

BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. — The Blount County Sheriff's Office said Monday that two people were charged with animal cruelty after deputies found several malnourished dogs at their home.

They said that a deputy was sent on a call about a suspicious man with a dog walking in the road, around Marble Hill and Dunlap Hollow roads. The man was James Albert Cardona, 43, and he told the deputy that he was attacked by the dog he had on a leash with him.

The deputy said he only saw seemingly older, superficial wounds that did not puncture Cardona's skin. BCSO also said that the dog did not appear aggressive. The deputy took Cardona to his home on Misty Valley Road.

There, BCSO said the deputy found several dogs with no immediate shelter, food or water. Two puppies were also found in a wooden utility building with no air, food or water that were also in squalid conditions.

BCSO said they also found a partially-burned, dead dog in a burn barrel. 

They said Rebecca Bennett, 47, returned to the home while deputies were there. She said she hadn't noticed that the dogs were malnourished.

Cardona and Bennett were arrested and taken to the Blount County Correctional Facility and BCSO said they were being held on bonds totaling $100,000 each.

In total, BCSO said they found eight malnourished dogs. They were taken to the Blount County Animal Shelter. Cardona and Bennett also relinquished custody of the dogs, according to BCSO.

They are charged with aggravated cruelty to animals and eight counts of cruelty to animals. Both are scheduled to appear in court at 9 a.m. on November 9.

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