WARE SHOALS, S.C. (AP) — Someone concerned about the health of a puppy they bought in South Carolina led deputies to a puppy mill where more than 270 animals were being kept in deplorable conditions, Laurens County Sheriff Don Reynolds said.

The animals were stacked in cages on top of each other, covered in urine and feces. There were about 150 dogs — mostly Chihuahuas — and a large number of chickens as well as some ducks and rabbits at the Ware Shoals property, said Kim Sanders, director of the Anderson County PAWS animal shelter.

"It’s just been really heartbreaking to know most of those animals have never been outside a cage their entire life," Sanders told The Greenwood Index-Journal.

Barbara Anne Timms, 70 , and Barry Leon Davis, 46, were both charged Tuesday with two counts of ill treatment of animals. It wasn't known if they had lawyers.

The scene was appalling to deputies, who had to get a warrant before the homeowners would allow them on their land, Reynolds said.

“The ammonia smell last night when we got there was so incredible that I don’t know how those animals were standing it,” Reynolds said.

The animals are getting veterinary help before they can be placed in shelters. The legal case against Timms and Davis will have to be settled before the animals can be put up for adoption, Sanders said.