CA man arrested after hundreds of dead animals found at home, also charged with child neglect

'This is just a disgusting case. It's filthy and deplorable,' sheriff's office said

ByAna Torrea KFSN logo
Monday, May 6, 2024
Cleanup continues after hundreds of dead animals found in Laton
The Central California SPCA is investigating the property where hundreds of animals were found dead in Laton.

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. -- A man has been arrested after hundreds of dead and live animals were discovered in deplorable conditions in California.

The Fresno County Sheriff's Office arrested 41-year-old Carl Mendes Friday at a home in Laton.

Deputies say somebody passing through the area noticed the property and called the sheriff's office. When ABC Fresno, California affiliate KFSN crews arrived on the scene, a stench was coming from the property.

When deputies arrived, they found the property with close to 300 animals living in "total disarray" and hundreds of other dead animals. The animals include pigs, goats, sheep, chickens and more.

Mendes was arrested on child neglect charges because he has four teenagers living at the home with him. Deputies say he will likely face animal neglect charges, as well. The four teenagers will be placed into the care of Child Protective Services.

Fresno Humane has been working with deputies to rescue the animals in the most need. Investigators say it will take several days to rescue the rest on the property.

The Central California SPCA is taking over the investigation. Several goats seized from the home are being taken care of at the SPCA.

"We still have additional things that are being looked at," said Jesse Boyce, a field operations manager at the SPCA. "There's other animals that need to be examined still, and we need to speak with people that were involved in this situation."

Boyce said they're planning to bring a vet out to the property to check on the remaining animals.

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"We're trying to get one that has a free schedule this upcoming week," Boyce said.

KFSN reached out to Mendes, but he declined an on-camera interview.

He said that the animals were not neglected, and he helps facilitate new homes for animals.

Peggy Vaughn works as a bookkeeper at Church of the Brethren, which is right next to Mendes' property. Vaughn said she could smell the stench coming from next-door.

"The last couple of weeks in the parking lot, on the side next to the house, you could smell," Vaughn said. "It smelled like an open sewer."

Vaughn has driven past the home several times. She said she noticed a cluttered and messy front yard, along with many of the animals around the area.

"There was a pig that we found that was suffering, so we did have to put that pig down using a firearm," Fresno County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Tony Botti said. "This is just a disgusting case. It's filthy and deplorable; nobody should be living in these conditions, humans or animals."

Investigators say Mendes told deputies he goes to auctions and buys animals to nourish them back to health.