News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

August 9, 2013

Sheriff: The ‘worst case of neglect’

Two arrested; 2 minors, 1 adult removed by protective services; More than 20 dogs, 2 cats also removed

MARION HEIGHTS — A Vigo County couple is facing allegations of neglect of a dependent and animal cruelty after sheriff’s deputies discovered what is being called the “worst case of neglect” in many years.

Kenneth M. Walling, 37, and wife Tracy Walling, 32, are facing allegations of neglect of a dependent, a class-D felony and animal neglect/cruelty, a class-A misdemeanor. They were being held Thursday in Vigo County jail without bond.

Sheriff’s deputies were at the Walling home on U.S. 150 Thursday responding to an animal complaint when they noticed a foul odor coming from the home, according to a sheriff’s department news release.

Upon entering, deputies found the floor covered in dog feces, trash and dirty diapers, according to the release.

The deputies then discovered two minor children and a 74-year-old woman inside the home. The children had animal feces on them, according to the sheriff’s department.

The children were removed from the residence by the Department of Child Services. The elderly woman was placed in the care of a family member, the release stated.

Also removed from the home were 22 dogs, two cats and a bird, according to the news release. A pen containing three dead dogs in various states of decay was found in the basement of the home, police stated.

Sheriff Greg Ewing called the case the “worst case of neglect of children and dogs I have seen in my 21 years.”

The dogs, including many small dogs, were rounded up by employees from the Terre Haute Humane Society, said Charlie Brown, director of the Humane Society shelter. Some puppies were dehydrated, he said.

Some of the dogs were given “comfort cuts” of their matted fur to remove tangles, Brown said. The dogs included an English bulldog, four St. Bernards and several small dogs, Brown said. Most of the dogs were found inside the house, he said.

“It was a pretty ripe place,” Brown said of the residence.

The Vigo County Health Department, which also responded to the scene, tagged the home as unfit for human habitation.

Adult Protective Services and the Vigo County Building Inspector also responded to the residence.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or


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