MIDDLEBURG, Fla. — Dozens of animals have been rescued "deplorable conditions" at a home on Old Jennings Road, Clay County Sheriff Michelle Cook said Monday morning.
Speaking at a news conference at the Clay County Fairgrounds, Cook said officials with the Clay County Sheriff's Office, Clay County Animal Services, Clay County Fire Rescue and other agencies were in the process of transporting animals from the home to a facility at the fairgrounds as of 11 a.m.
At least 100 animals are being seized from the 10-acre property, including dogs, rabbits, cats, goats, and chickens, Cook said. Many of the dogs are pregnant.
Detectives served a search warrant at the home Monday morning as a result of an investigation that started when deputies responded to a medical emergency call involving an adult who lived on the property, Cook said. During the call, deputies saw conditions that rose to the level requiring an additional investigation, she said.
Over several weeks, the sheriff's office coordinated with Animal Services to determine what criminal charges potentially exist and the best response to ensure the safety of the people living in the home, the first responders and the animals on site, Cook said.
Detectives are on the scene working the investigation, Cook said, and charges are possible. The animals will be assessed by veterinarians at the Fairgrounds before they are quarantined and then placed for adoption.
“I would strongly encourage anybody who's know of a place where there's animal abuse or neglect, let us know. Understand that these investigations are often very complex, and they takt time, but we're committed to following through and addressing it appropriately," Cook said.
“We will not tolerate animal neglect in Clay County," Clay County Commission Chair Mike Cella said.
The animals will be quarantined at the fairgrounds for 14 days, then spayed or neutered, and finally, put up for adoption.
“Our team is committed to the well-being of these animals and will provide clean housing, food, water, and medical care here at the fairgrounds until the animals are healthy and ready for adoption," Cella said.
Crews are working to set up a donation center to support the animals. Animal Services will need dry and wet food, treats, dog shampoo, puppy pads, collars and toys to help the animals. They will also need help in caring for the animals and volunteers over the next couple of weeks. You can call 1-877-252-9362 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, to make donations or to volunteer.