The founder of a Lafourche Parish animal-rescue group was arrested after authorities say they found her 3-year-old daughter walking barefoot in animal feces inside their home.
Dani Morgan, 30, a leader of the Thibodaux-based group We Stand Bayou, is charged with 14 counts of animal cruelty and one count cruelty to a juvenile, the Lafourche Parish Sheriff's Office said this evening.
Deputies went to Morgan's home on Leighton Drive in Thibodaux on Thursday afternoon after learning several dogs were being kept there in "unfavorable conditions," the Sheriff's Office said in a news release. Upon entering, deputies smelled a strong odor of urine and feces and found a "large amount" of animal excrement on the floors.
Officers found several cats and dogs that appeared to be in poor health, the Sheriff's Office said. Some animals roamed freely while others were in kennels.
The toddler had scratches on her body that deputies suspect were caused by contact with the animals, authorities said.
Morgan's daughter was placed into the custody of a family member by the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, according to the Sheriff's Office. The animals were taken to the Lafourche Animal Shelter to receive treatment.
Morgan was booked into the Lafourche jail and was released Friday on a $3,400 bond, the Sheriff's Office said.
In a telephone interview tonight, Morgan said three of the animals are her pets and she was trying to find homes for the other 11. She said she and her daughter had been gone for a couple of days on a trip to Grand Isle and that a sitter had been watching the animals during that time.
"Yes, I probably had too many dogs here and I got overwhelmed, but the majority of the disaster was from me being gone," she said. "They had food, water and automatic feeders, but they weren't supposed to be running around my house this whole time. So when I came home, it was a disaster."
Morgan said her child had no shoes on because she had just gotten out of the bathtub and they had just returned home after their trip. She said the scratches on her daughter came from playing outside while in Grand Isle and because the child plays with cats often. She said her house is always well-kept and she would never put her daughter in jeopardy.
"I was overwhelmed, stressed out and never home enough to keep up with everything," she said. "I was trying to get these puppies out of the house. At no point was I ever in the business of hurting an animal and definitely not hurting my baby girl."