FRONT ROYAL – A married couple was arrested Thursday on felony counts of cruelty to their six children after authorities found what they believed to be dirty conditions at their Bentonville home.
Brian Wayne Tenney, 55, and Wendy Ellen Tenney, 43, were both charged on six felony counts of cruelty and injuries to children.
According to Virginia sentencing guidelines, such charges carry between one and five years imprisonment.
A Thursday Warren County Sheriff’s Office news release states that 30 animals – 14 dogs and 16 cats – were also seized from the property and transported to the Humane Society of Warren County.
Warren County Sheriff’s Investigator B.W. Pugh stated in a criminal complaint that trash and animal feces were piled up outside of the residence and there was a noticeable “foul odor coming from inside.” During a Wednesday search of the Tenney’s 63 Limeton Church Road house, he said bugs were flying and crawling throughout the residence.
Pugh states in the complaint that the smell of ammonia, feces and garbage “was so strong that it burned my eyes,” adding that he could not stay inside without using a respirator.
He said similar conditions were present throughout the house, including the children’s bedrooms.
The house search was initiated after Warren County Animal Control Officer Laura Gomez said she observed goats owned by the Tenney’s loose in the road near the residence.
A Warren County Sheriff’s Office news release states that upon locating the Tenneys, Gomez heard several dogs barking from a locked garage.
The release states that “based on prior incidents related to the welfare of animals at the residence,” Gomez asked to check the garage’s conditions. A kennel operated on the property burned down in a March 2015 fire, causing the death of over a dozen Australian Shepherd dogs.
The release states that upon seeing “unclean and unsafe conditions” in the garage, the search warrant was obtained.
The kennel’s conditional use permit – registered to Wendy Tenney – was revoked in April by the Warren County Board of Supervisors. She is challenging that revocation in civil court; County Attorney Dan Whitten said dogs were allowed to remain on the property pending a January hearing.
Whitten added that he is not sure whether the hearing will take place.
Brian and Wendy Tenney both were released on $5,000 secured bonds, according to checklists for bail determinations.
They are both due to appear at 9 a.m. Oct. 11 in Warren County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.
The Sheriff’s Office news release release states that the matter is under investigation and “charges are pending for animal cruelty and inadequate care.” Gomez could not be reached for a comment.
The release states that the Warren County Department of Social Services assisted in the matter, but the department declined to comment on the children’s condition or if they were removed from the house.