HEMPFIELD TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — Children and animals were found living in filth inside a home in Westmoreland County and it was actually a call for a dog bite that led humane officers and Westmoreland County Sheriffs Deputies to a Hempfield Township home.
What they found inside, was one of the worst cases of animal and child neglect they had ever seen.
Veteran humane officers Andrea Palmer says she’ll never forget 205 North Drive.
“When you go in there you have to back your feelings, in any case, but this one was really, really hard,” she said.
Palmer was on scene along with law enforcement initially to check in on several animals inside the home.
They would find the animals along with four little boys.
“I hurt for them, I was so, so upset for them, I wanted to pick them up and hold them and take them home,” Palmer recalled.
Four children, six-years-old, all covered in urine and feces. Their clothes were black from filth, hands and feet covered in black sludge, and sleeping on mattresses covered in feces and insects.
A scene unsuitable for human or animal habiation.
“I was taken aback, I was stunned,” Palmer said. “I was like, ‘Oh my god, what is going on here?’”
The children’s parents, 38-year-olds Cloyd and Melissa Zimmerman are charged with felony child and animal neglect.
All of the children were taken by Westmoreland County Child & Youth Services.
Then, there were the pets.
Two dogs and two cats. The cats were okay, but the dogs were living like everyone else, in unimaginable squalor.
“They were both in a cage when we got there, the one dog was not in good shape, had an open sore,” Palmer said.
All the animals are now receiving veterinary care and are expected to recover.
As a mother and grandmother, the children are what will haunt Andrea Palmer.
“This is the first time I’ve ever had to deal with children, it was devastating,” she said. “We really need justice for this.”
Cloyd and Melissa Zimmerman are both free tonight on $25,000 and $50,000 unsecured bond.