Law enforcement authorities on Wednesday arrested a Baton Rouge woman after firefighters discovered more than two dozen animals living in squalor inside her flaming home earlier this week.

An agent with the East Baton Rouge Parish Animal Control and Rescue Center contacted Baton Rouge police, who arrested Tamekia Paige, 35, after firefighters found the animals living in foul and repulsive conditions when they responded to a blaze at Paige’s Sherbrook Avenue home Tuesday afternoon.

Two dogs and a cat died as a result of the fire, said Hilton Cole, director of the parish’s animal control agency.

Paige was not home at the time of the fire, but Baton Rouge firefighters managed to rescue most of the animals, which were scattered about the home when firefighters arrived. Some cats escaped as soon as firefighters entered the home, Cole said.

First responders found some dogs locked inside wire cages. Others were found inside an outdoor shed, while still more were freely roaming inside the house, said Curt Monte, a Baton Rouge Fire Department spokesman.

Some firefighters fought flames while others scooped up and cared for the ailing animals, Monte said.

Fire investigators later determined that an unattended pot left on a stove caused the blaze, Monte said.

According to a probable cause document, at least 18 Maltese-Poodle mixes, also known as Maltipoos, and a Catahoula mix were found at the home inside feces-covered wire cages. An investigator smelled a strong stench of urine emanating from the cages, too, and many of the animals had fur matted with excrement.

In an effort to care for the visibly neglected animals, Animal Control impounded the dogs, which numbered 25, Cole said.

On Wednesday morning, Paige showed up at the animal control facility. The agency soon contacted a city police officer, who arrested Paige.

Paige, 12311 Sherbrook Ave., was booked into Parish Prison on Wednesday on 18 counts of animal cruelty. She was released the same day after posting $9,000 bail, booking records show.

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