Two Maltese-mix dogs were found “healthy and trained” in the same California home where 13 children were allegedly malnourished and shackled to their beds for months, according to authorities.
On Thursday David Turpin, 56, and Louise Turpin, 49, pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of torture, child abuse, dependent adult abuse and false imprisonment.
Prosecutors said the Turpin parents starved and tormented the children by putting apple and pumpkin pies on the kitchen counter, but not letting them have any.
However, two female dogs, one of whom is named Fluffy, were found healthy and well-trained, according to officials.
“The animals, one white and one black, appear healthy and friendly and are leash-trained,” California animal control officer, Christina Avila said in a statement.
Images of the two 1-year-old pups were posted by authorities, showing them wearing dog sweaters. They are being put up for adoption Friday.
The police first found out about the case when the couple’s 17-year-old daughter escaped and led them back to the Turpins’ home in Perris, Calif. on Sunday.
The conditions in which the 13 children – ranging in ages from two to 29 – were kept were outlined by Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin on Thursday, who called it a case of “human depravity.”
Hestrin said they were so malnourished that it led to muscle wasting and stunted growth. Several children even had cognitive and nerve damage from the abuse, he said.
Hestrin said the children suffered “severe caloric malnourishment,” were denied basic hygiene and medical care and were beaten.
As a result of malnourishment, the 12-year-old child was the weight of an average 7-year-old while the oldest, a 29-year-old woman, weighed just 82 pounds, he said.
Experts said the siblings would likely be left with permanent physical and emotional damage, such as anxiety and depression, as well as issues around food.
“When the brain is starved of proteins and other building blocks, brain development is going to be impacted,” Dr. Richard Pan, a California pediatrician told Reuters.
If convicted, the Turpin couple would face 94 years to life in prison.
— With files from Reuters