'Deplorable' Florida home leads to arrests; 3 children, more than 240 animals taken

Officials in Florida on Sunday rescued three children and some 246 animals of various species from “deplorable living conditions” at a home with three adults, police said.

Police in Edgewater, northeast of Orlando, said they received a call around 1:50 p.m. from a man named Gregg Nelson, who said he wanted to end his relationship with his wife and live-in girlfriend.

Nelson told police he wanted to take his three children away because the home was uninhabitable, but his wife supposedly wouldn’t let him, investigators said.

Investigators said 246 animals were removed from a Florida home on Sunday. 

Investigators said 246 animals were removed from a Florida home on Sunday.  (City of Edgewater Police)

Responding officers said they found three children – ages 8, 9, and 10 – and 246 types of animals living in squalor. According to a news release, the home was covered in feces and urine, with some rooms containing ankle-deep garbage.

Edgewater Police Chief Joe Mahoney said Monday the house was “probably the worst” he’d ever entered.

“I felt bad for the little girls. It’s just sad,” he added.

Police said the Department of Children and Families took the children before placing them with another family member. Edgewater police and animal control brought the animals to a shelter.

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Amanda Leclair, a veterinarian at the Edgewater Animal Shelter, told the Daytona Beach News-Journal it appeared an animal breeding operation was going on at the home.

In all, investigators rescued four dogs, two cats, nine guinea pigs, 12 rabbits, four hamsters, 10 flying opossums, 14 birds, two geckos, one tortoise, one hedgehog, seven bearded dragons, 95 mice and 83 rats, according to the news release.

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Gregg Nelson, his wife, Susan Nelson, and his live-in girlfriend, Melissa Hamilton, each faced three counts of child abuse and 66 counts of animal cruelty, police said.

It was not clear if the suspects had attorneys.