NEW TAZEWELL, Tenn. (WVLT) -- 134 chickens, peacocks, rabbits and puppies are recovering at the Claiborne Animal Shelter, after police found them in small cages without food or water during a traffic stop early Saturday morning.
Charlie Gregory and Taniciah Little each face 134 counts of animal cruelty. When asked if he was ever cruel to his animals, Gregory said:
"No ma'am. I take care of my animals. If I couldn't afford to feed them, I wouldn't fool with them."
Gregory and Little surrendered the animals to the shelter in court Tuesday, but Gregory maintains his innocence.
"The small cages the peacocks were in wasn't hurting them. And the rabbits in small cages - the chickens were not humped up, they were in cages and fed. I mean, I took care of my animals," he said.
Shelter workers said they found most of the animals underweight and dehydrated. Puppies were crammed three to a box, and a beagle was in a container so small it couldn't stand up.
"The beagle was in a little, itty-bitty crate. It was a puppy, it was not hurting it. I wouldn't hurt that dog for the world - it's right in there, you can take a picture of it. It's not hurt," said Gregory.
But the beagle won't make it. The shelter said it's dying from a puppy disease called Parvo.
"Our goal is to help all of these animals. And when you see one that had a perfectly good life ahead of it, but it's not going to make it because it has a disease that could have been prevented, it's hard," said Liza Martz, executive director of the Claiborne Animal Shelter.
As for the rest of the animals, the shelter said they're getting better day by day and will be adopted out once they're healthy.
Gregory said he supported himself by selling the animals and isn't sure what he'll do now.
Little and Gregory are scheduled to appear in court again on February 26.
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