Attorney for Bradenton animal sanctuary: Don't jump to conclusions

Last Updated: Friday, February 07, 2014, 11:16 PM EST

The attorney for the owners of Napier's Log Cabin Horse and Animal Sanctuary released a statement regarding the investigation.

The couple's lawyer is urging people not to jump to conclusions.

The statement read in part "a sloppy hoarder does not equate, however, to an animal abuser. Therefore, in the meantime I must implore everyone to keep an open mind."

The attorney also talked about the recent graves uncovered on the property.

Investigators found 20 dogs and cats buried at the site but the Napier’s attorney says the public should consider that the animals may have arrived in poor condition or may have simply died due to age -- that it wouldn't be uncommon to bury an animal in someone's backyard.

Investigators raided the sanctuary this week and rescued 300 animals.

The full statement is below:

"As the attorney for Alan and Sheree Napier, I must implore the press and the public not to rush to judgment regarding Alan and Sheree.  There are many statements being made and some pictures, particularly with regard to the buried animals, being published that, when first heard or seen, can be quite upsetting. 

Alan and Sheree have been gone this week, and we are finding them a trial attorney.  At that point, their side of the story will be told, and there are always two sides to every story.  Further, we already know, and I will admit, that Alan and Sheree and their story will not be perfect – everyone now knows now that they were sloppy and hoarded.  A sloppy hoarder does not equate, however, to an animal abuser.  Therefore, In the meantime, I must implore everyone to keep an open mind.  Remember that statements and photographs only document the situation at one moment in time.  Please consider the source of a statement – all of us have our biases – some more than others.  Also, consider the same fact or photograph can be seen from different perspectives.      

Let me provide just three among many examples of the effect of different perspectives or lack of content:

1. The first is the fact that some of the press is reporting that the remains of dogs and cats have been found at the Napier sanctuary.  The hearing of this fact or the seeing of such pictures is naturally upsetting and disturbing for all of us pet owners.  If we think a minute, however, we would remember that (a) unfortunately, dogs and cats have relatively short lifespans, (b) Alan and Sheree took in very sick or unadoptable animals from Manatee County Animal Services and private individuals, whereas most animal rescue organizations do not, (c) Alan and Sheree committed to keeping animals they could not adopt out for their lifetimes, and (d) Alan and Sheree had, at any one time, 200-300 animals.  Should it not then be expected, and, in fact, wasn’t it inevitable, that some of these animals would die at the sanctuary?  Don’t all of us pet owners have pets buried or their ashes spread in our backyards, or cremated by our veterinarians and disposed of elsewhere?  None of us have abused our animals simply by virtue of having buried them.

2. According to the press, the Manatee Sheriff’s Office has now admitted that it or Manatee County Animal Services has euthanized 12 of Alan’s and Sheree’s rescued animals.  Was it because these animals were too ill to be cured, or was it that the cure for these animals was too costly or they were considered too unadoptable to be worth the cure in the County’s mind?  Alan and Sheree, however, once told me they paid for medical care without considering whether the treatment was “cost effective” or the animal was adoptable.  (Yes, in fact, they do have veterinarians.)  While I will not presume to know the answers, two fair questions to ask are:  “But for this raid, would those 12 pets be alive today?  As to those 12 pets, would they be better off alive today rather than euthanized yesterday?”

3. One media outlet reported that four horses with visible ribs were found in a pasture with “only … a scattered pile of dirty hay contaminated with feces to eat.”  Having two horses myself, I know how quickly horses can spoil their hay and how quickly they can eat their hay.  Again, when, in fact, were the horses last fed?  How long had they been at Napier’s?  What was their condition when they arrived?  The horses were in a pasture – did it have grass?       

Again, please keep an open mind and do not rush to judgment.  The other side to this story has yet to be told."