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Dogs, cats rescued in Blount Co. animal cruelty case begin long path to recovery

BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) — Nine dogs, two cats and a snake survived after deputies said 21 animals were found in poor conditions at a Blount County woman's home.

On January 19, the Blount County Sheriff's Office announced they were searching for Amy Robertson, of Highway 72 in Maryville. While Robertson's friends and family said they had "never seen anyone love their animals quite like she has," deputies said they found multiple animals deceased in cages, as well as multiple animals running around Robertson's home, when they responded to the residence on a welfare check.

On Friday, January 26, Robertson appeared in court to face 21 charges of animal cruelty, and officials told Local 8 News she would remain in custody throughout the case. Prosecutors asked that Robertson undergo a psychological exam, for which she would bear the cost and would be escorted by the Sheriff.

Officials said that if Robertson was granted bond, she would not be able to own any animals for the duration of the case, and she would have to formally surrender the animals found in and around her home.

Meanwhile, a week after some of Robertson's dogs were taken to the Blount County Animal Center, the shelter's director said the animals have had to overcome everything from starvation to dehydration. However, the biggest hurdle the dogs would have to overcome was regaining trust in humans, he said.

"All of us have pets at home," Blount County Anmal Center Director Jim Naelitz said. "We take as good of care as we do our kids, they're part of the family. To see something like this, these dogs that were allowed to get into the condition they're in. […] They didn't choose to be put in this situation."

After about a week at the shelter, foster families said Friday the dogs were beginning to warm up to people. The pets weren't put up for adoption as of Friday, as the center said they would have to wait for Robertson to officially surrender the animals.

However, those who chose to foster the pets said their paths to recovery would be long ones.

"I foster dogs all the time, and this is the worst case I've ever had," foster Tina Enloe said.

"Just traumatized, very much traumatized," foster Carla Summers described.

Animal center workers said the best thing East Tennesseans can do to help out is prevent future cases from getting to the point at which Robertson's animals were found. Officials said anyone who sees signs of abuse should call the center at 865-980-6244. For more information, visit the Blount County Animal Center website.

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