Lindsay Arnold and Christa Garcia, two Nevada women, are in jail after police said they found several children and nearly three dozen dogs living in horrible conditions in their Reno-area home.
According to local reports, authorities discovered Arnold’s two young children living with more than 30 dogs in the basement of her house in the city’s suburbs. Investigators said the cellar floor was littered with “animal feces, trash and clothing,” and that the children were found with “old and new” dog bite scars.
Arnold, 29, was booked into the Washoe County Jail on two counts of felony child abuse, neglect or endangerment. Garcia, 46 and reportedly a friend or partner of the young mother’s, was charged with two gross misdemeanor counts of the same.
Police Say Kids, Dogs Lived in Filth
The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office said they received a call on Monday, asking them to conduct a welfare check on a family that lived in subletted bedrooms in the basement of a house on the 8800 block of Reservoir Street in Lemmon Valley, a small suburb on the northern edge of Reno.
It’s not clear who called the police or what prompted them to do so.
Police arrived at the home early that morning, just after 7 a.m., reports indicate. Inside, officials said they found Arnold’s two children, aged just 9 and 7 years old, living in a basement apartment with 34 dogs.
Arnold and Garcia were renting out two bedrooms in the 900 square-foot basement, police said. The children are believed to have shared a bedroom with 18 dogs, while their mother and her associate lived in another room with 15 more, Reno police told reporters.
A third bedroom in the basement was being sublet by an “uninvolved party” who also owned a dog, bringing the total number of pets to 34, authorities said.
In a press release issued to local media outlets, officials said the basement was as squalid as it was crowded. Old clothes, blankets, discarded trash, and urine and feces from the dogs covered all 900 square feet of the basement floor, police claimed.
In the bedroom where the children lived, police said they found a single, deflated air mattress that served as a shared bed. The air mattress was also said to be “covered” in dog feces.
The children themselves were found to have recent dog bites and scratches across their bodies, as well as older, healed scars from previous bites, according to the sheriff’s office.
Washoe County Regional Animal Services (WCRAS) told one station they rescued all 34 pets from the cellar, including the dog that belonged to the “uninvolved party.” The dogs range in breed and size from Chihuahuas to large pit bull terriers.
WCRAS added they are investigating the “open, ongoing animal hoarding case.”
Arnold and Garcia were arrested at the scene, while the children were placed in “emergency care” with family members, KOLO reported. Authorities did not discuss plans for the long-term custody of Arnold’s children.
Lindsay Arnold, Christa Garcia in Jail
Both suspects were booked into the Washoe County Jail on Monday morning.
Arnold was charged with two felony counts of abusing, neglecting or endangering a child. Garcia was formally charged with two gross misdemeanor counts of the same.
Their incarceration status was unclear as of Tuesday morning. Online jail records on the sheriff’s office website showed no results for Garcia. Arnold’s inmate record was available briefly around midday before disappearing from the site, though it’s possible the women posted bond around that time.
If convicted of the felony child abuse charges, Arnold could face anywhere from two to 20 years in a state prison, depending on the judge’s interpretation of the offense, according to one legal source.
Garica could face up to a year in jail and as much as $2,000 in fines, if convicted of the gross misdemeanor charge, the source added.