HARRIMAN (WATE) - The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation is investigating a Morgan pet crematory for allegedly burying animals on their property.
TDEC officials say a cremator belonging to Elliott Pet Services, a pet crematory run out of a home, stopped working within the last several months, so they started burying the animals in large pits instead.
The crematory is located in a remote section of Morgan County near the Roane County line.
Officials say hundreds of pets were found in at least three large pits. It took TDEC crews all of Tuesday to uncover the pets with backhoes and trucks.
A neighbor told 6 News the smell of decomposing dogs and cats began spreading to other nearby homes. Next-door neighbor Fegan Kenny said the smell was unbearable, so in September he decided to figure out where the smell was coming from.
"Have you ever smelled decomp? Have you ever smelled dead animals? Just multiply that by a thousand, and that's what I smelled," said Kenny.
What he found floored him.
"Some dogs had been buried, and then there was a big pile of, and I'm just estimating, anywhere from 30 to 60 dogs in a big pile in bags," he said.
Kenny called TDEC, which began investigating.
TDEC says they have been in contact with the crematory for several weeks, sending them notices of violations.
The homeowners began cooperating and agreed to let TDEC help them clean up the property.
TDEC has cited the owners and made them cease operations. The owners were also told they must properly cover the animals buried there.
The District Attorney's office says at least three large pits were uncovered, each around four feet deep and filled with pets. The news sickened Kenny.
"I can't imagine somebody paying to have your dog cremated, and it's not cremated. They just throw it out on a piece of property," said Kenny.
There is no word yet on how many animals were found. No charges have been filed pending the outcome of the investigation.
Crews will begin Wednesday removing the animals and transporting them to a nearby landfill approved for animal remains.