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Concerns of animal neglect lead to strange discovery

BARBOURSVILLE, WV - What started as reports of animal neglect at a house on Rebecca Circle turned into a strange discovery for law enforcement. 

The home was foreclosed on Wednesday, but the former owner, 27-year-old Anna Firth, left behind more than just possessions. There were two sick dogs and two cats left in the house, according to Cabell County Sheriff Chuck Zerkle.

One neighbor, who wants to remain anonymous, said she and others became concerned about the animals when they hadn't seen the owner in weeks. 

"We saw animals that came to the door and were very thin and just looked malnutritioned, like they weren't being fed or given water," said the neighbor. 

After concerned calls from neighbors and a contractor that discovered the animals, the Cabell County Sheriff's Office and Animal Control responded to the house. 

The neighbor said the contractor described the conditions as "deplorable." 

Sheriff Zerkle said the two dogs were struggling with health issues, but the owner was trying to self-medicate them.

However, that wasn't all they found. Authorities also discovered a dead cat in Firth's freezer. Her reasoning was that she puts dead feral cats that she finds in the freezer so that she can have them cremated later, according to Sheriff Zerkle.

Sheriff Zerkle also confirmed that two weeks ago, Firth was arrested and charged with embezzlement.

After Wednesday's animal investigation, no charges were filed and Firth did get the animals back. However, law enforcement required her to take the animals to a veterinarian and provide proof of it.

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