BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — “On the verge of death,” “absolutely grotesque,” and “bones showing under the skin” are just some of the words that have been used to describe the living conditions several Blount County dogs have faced.

Blount County Sheriff’s Office said a deputy found severely malnourished dogs without immediate shelter, food or water after investigating a Friendsville residence.

“You don’t starve an animal overnight,” said Charles Rafford with Blount County Animal Shelter. “You don’t get an animal in that condition, where you’re clearly seeing hip bones, pelvic bones, rib bones.”

That neglect is what the animal shelter is trying to combat as team members nurse the dogs back to health.

“They’re isolated and checked by our veterinarian and our vet staff,” Rafford said. “Most will need additional nutritional supplements in order to start to gain weight back.”

In addition to that increased nutrition, the dogs will also receive essential medicine.

“The animals will all receive vaccinations and rabies flea preventative and wormer,” Rafford told WATE.

The challenge doesn’t end there. Team members must also gain the dogs’ trust, which is something that’s not always easy to do.

“We do see animals in here that have been neglected and abused to where they’re scared of human beings,” Rafford said. “They cower in the corner and it takes us weeks of working with them before they trust human beings again.”

According to Rafford, there is some good news.

“The ones that I’ve seen come in so far aren’t scared. They’re outgoing, they’ve been friendly, sweet dogs.”

Charles Rafford, Blount County Animal Shelter

The dogs from the Friendsville residence were surrendered to the shelter, which means the dogs will eventually be up for adoption. However, it could be weeks or months until that happens.

The shelter also credits the dogs’ rescue to a sharp-eyed caller that saw something suspicious and reported it. In total, eight dogs were rescued from the residence.

James Albert Cardona, 43, and Rebecca Marie Bennett, 47, have both been charged with animal cruelty. They each have bonds totaling $100,000.