POLK COUNTY, Fla. — A Lakeland veterinarian who was housing miniature horses, dogs, and birds in squalor was scheduled to be sentenced on felony animal cruelty charges Friday in Polk County.

Gail Nichols was found guilty of four counts of animal cruelty earlier this week.

Investigators said she and her husband left their horses in inhumane conditions at their Lakeland home in 2017. Detectives also found dogs and birds inside a home without air conditioning, food, or water. They said the home was uninhabitable for humans.

The home was also infested with rats.

Polk County deputies found 18 miniature horses confined to a pasture with hay, but another 10 had no access to hay or grass. There were two other full-sized horses without access to hay, they said.

At least three of the miniature horses were in such bad shape that they had to be put down.

Nichols's husband, Paul Smith, is currently on trial for similar charges.

Gail Nichols and Paul Smith (Polk County Sheriff)
Gail Nichols and Paul Smith (Polk County Sheriff)