PORT RICHEY, Fla. — Pasco County Animal Services removed 32 dogs, several cats, and a gerbil from a Springer Drive property on May 3 with the help of several community partners.
- Sharon McReynolds cited but said description of events "highly exagerrated"
- More than 30 animals seized earlier this month
- Suncoast Animal League director said many of the animals were malnourished
- More Pasco County headlines
Citations have been issued, but on Monday the recipient disputed what has been said about the case.
One of the partners was the Suncoast Animal League, whose executive director and co-founder, Rick Chaboudy, has worked with animals for decades.
"There was an ammonia smell that was pretty thick, and this was outdoors," said Chaboudy. "When we went in through that front door, it's like somebody's standing there, like a heavyweight boxer's standing there, and punches you in the face."
Chaboudy said there was no ventilation or air conditioning inside.
"The animals did need to be cared for," said PCAS Assistant Director Spencer Conover. "There were some that were in need behaviorally, some that were in need medically, and we knew, as an organization, that we could definitely help them."
According to animal services, several citations were issued to Sharon McReynolds, the tenant at the commercial property and head of the Humane Society of West Florida. For Chaboudy, that's been the toughest part of this case.
"It's just made so much worse when it's somebody that's in the same business as you are. They're supposed to be one of the good guys," he said.
Sharon McReynolds issued a statement via e-mail.
"The description of the events and situation were highly exaggerated," McReynolds said.
According to her, the converted office space actually featured nine air conditioned rooms, but one of the four AC units failed and assistance was sought. Conover said animal services was contacted on May 1 and asked by a concerned citizen to conduct a welfare check at the property.
"How to improve conditions was discussed, but at no time was it stated the condition of the animals required immediate action," said McReynolds.
McReynolds said the animals were cared for on a daily basis, including being allowed outside for playtime. She also stated "there was an entire room full of food."
During a return visit from animal services on May 3, McReynolds said she was asked if she'd consider accepting outside assistance given the air conditioning and ventilation problem.
"This assistance was gladly accepted and was arranged. The animals were not seized, but surrendered to PCAS and in turn, transferred to SAL and several other rescues," McReynolds said via e-mail.
Conover said a handful of dogs had to be put down. Chaboudy said this included the dog that was paralyzed.
He said about half of the dogs taken in by Suncoast Animal League are being fostered. The ones at the shelter are putting on weight, but the outline of bones are still visible along the backs of some. He said several are dealing with urinary tract infections.
Conover said the PCAS investigation is ongoing.