A 34-year-old woman has been arrested after police found two badly injured toddlers chained up in her back yard.
Another six young children found alone inside the house in San Antonio, Texas, were taken into foster care.
Officers found the “disgusting” scene after a late-night phone call about a crying child.
They found a three-year-old girl with a broken arm tied to a back door with a dog leash, and an injured two-year-old boy with a chain strapped to his ankle.
“It shocks your conscience when you think what kind of individual could treat children, who in my opinion are gifts from God, like this,” said Bexar County District Attorney Nicholas LaHood.
Bexar County Sheriff’s Office spokesman James Keith added: “It was the same kind of set-up you would use for a dog.”
The injured toddlers are believed to be siblings, and police are “actively trying to find their parents”, he said.
Porucha Phillips, the mother of the six children found inside the house, has been charged with two counts of injury to a child by omission.
Her bond was set at $75,000 (£51,000) on each charge.
Officials are concerned the youngsters – aged between 10 months and 10-years-old – may be malnourished.
Police said the children’s father had been working and showed up after deputies arrived.