ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office charged both suspects in an animal cruelty investigation with an additional charge of ‘felony killing an animal by starvation.’ After further investigation, an autopsy revealed that a dog was found dead on the property due to starvation, deputies said.

Dozens of animals including goats, snakes, a turtle, and a bearded dragon were seized from a moldy home in Rowan County last week, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office explained.

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Deputies launched an investigation on October 21, 2023, regarding a home along Morlan Park Road after a malnourished dog was located by someone near the residence.

A microchip led members of the Rowan County Animal Shelter to the address on Morlan Park Road, according to the sheriff’s report. As the investigation continued, a warrant was served last Thursday around 9 a.m. at the home where officials said Justin Smith and Madyson Clontz resided. Deputies said rat feces was found inside the moldy home and numerous animals in poor condition were found around the property.

The sheriff’s office said 45 animals were seized including snakes, pigs, ducks, chickens, goats, cats, dogs, a turtle, a fish, and a bearded dragon, which is defined as a reptile coming from the lizard species. Both suspects were charged with 45 counts of animal cruelty at that time.

In addition, the two were charged with three counts of misdemeanor child abuse.

Officials say no new bond was set for the new charges due to the Pretrial Integrity Act. This took effect on Oct. 1, 2023, and states that a District Court Judge must set the bond on a defendant who is out on bond and is then charged with a new charge.

The suspects’ first court appearance is set for Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023.