Franklin County officials spent most of Monday afternoon removing several dogs and a horse from a home near Frankfort where as many as 60 animals had been kept with inadequate food and water, Sheriff Pat Melton said.
The last of the remaining large animals, including nine alpacas, should be removed by Wednesday, Melton said.
A Franklin County District Court judge ordered the animals placed in the custody of the county humane society Monday morning, after owners Sandra Coy and William Coy pleaded not guilty to 23 counts of animal cruelty.
Melton said the case began unfolding Friday, when deputies went to the Coys' home after receiving at least two complaints. He said they arrived to find between 50 and 60 animals in poor condition and living in filth.
Melton said the animals included dogs, several birds including cockatoos, goats, pigs, chickens, a horse and the alpacas.
Deputies found a dead pit bull dog that was still chained up, a large pig living in a small muddy enclosure and a goat that apparently had been attacked by one of the dogs, Melton said. The goat had to be euthanized Sunday, the sheriff said.
"It was to the point where we had to act," Melton said Monday. "There were definite signs of animal cruelty. There was no food, no water or anything else."
Melton said authorities began bringing in food and water for the animals Friday night. Animals most in need of medical attention, including 23 dogs and birds, were moved to the Franklin County Humane Society's shelter, he said.
Humane Society director Nancy Benton said Monday that the animals had improved after receiving treatment over the weekend.
"They're all stabilized now and out of any immediate danger," she said. "The vets have seen them twice, and they're getting proper nutrition and lots of fresh water, plus some clean living conditions."
The humane society was trying to line up other places Monday to take in the horse, the alpacas and other animals that the shelter cannot accommodate.
"We have some things lined up, but there are pigs, goats and a lot of chickens," Benton said. "The chickens will be the tricky ones, because the shelter is not capable of housing them."
Officials were trying to locate agencies, such as rescue operations, that could accept the nine alpacas and the horse, Benton said. The goal is to move them directly from the Coys' home to the rescue agencies, she said.
Caring for the sudden influx of animals will be a financial strain for the humane society, Benton said.
"It's going to be put a real strain on our resources, and we're already at capacity as it is," she said. "I would say we can accommodate the animals in temporary housing for a very, very short period of time until they can be relocated. It's going to be a huge job."
Melton described the Coys' property as having a number of acres, but "not enough acreage for me to consider it a farm."
He said Sandra Coy apparently was keeping the animals there because she thought she could care for them.
"She is thinking in her mind that she is rescuing the animals and helping them," he said. "It's a recurring pattern of behavior."
Melton said the Coys have a history of problems caring for animals dating back several years.
WLEX-TV reported Monday that Sandra and William Coy were charged in LaRue County in 2008 after authorities there found more than 30 dogs at their home. They also were charged in Franklin County in 2009, Melton said.
Also, there were issues earlier this summer.
Melton said his deputies removed two horses from the Coys' property several weeks ago after Sandra Coy gave them permission to take the animals away. The horses, which were in weakened condition, have "made a miraculous recovery," and officials are trying to find people to adopt them, he said.
Meanwhile, Benton said the Franklin County Humane Society will be "in desperate need of financial support" to help make up the cost of caring for the rescued animals.
She said anyone wishing to make donations can do so by calling the humane society at (502) 875-7297 or by visiting its Web site, FCHSKY.org.
Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.