MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. – The sheriff's office continues its animal cruelty investigation into Napier's Log Cabin Horse & Animal Sanctuary, saying about 12 dogs had to be euthanized. Thursday investigators dug up about 20 deceased dogs and cats on the property.
The surviving animals are now safe and being housed at local animal rescues. But the Manatee County Sheriff's Office says no arrests have been made and the investigation will continue.
The investigation started in December, prompted by multiple calls and leads. Investigators looked into the animal sanctuary, and 6 weeks later they served a search warrant.
But some in the local animal rescue community suspect this has been going on for years. "No one had any clue the magnitude of what was really going on or what, because no one was really allowed behind the gate," says Dari Oglesby, executive director at Honor Animal Rescue.
The Napier's lawyer said in a statement that his clients maintained quote: "continuous dialogue with Manatee County Animal Services for years and are typically inspected by Manatee County Animal Services on a quarterly basis."
But Animal Services tells ABC 7 that they were never inside.
Amy Tobin, who adopted her dog Dutchess 7 years ago from Napier's, says she was not allowed to see the living conditions and was surprised when she brought the dog home. "She was infested with fleas to the point where we put her in the bath tub to bathe her and just bloody water. It was just bloody and bloody and it wouldn't go clear."
Today Dutchess is happy, but does have lingering health issues.
Honor Animal Rescue in Bradenton is among the many local organizations taking in the animals. They have rescued over 75 of the animals from Napier's, and have been working around the clock to medicate, clean, feed and nurture the dogs. "We have heartworm positive dogs, we have dogs that have upper respiratory, dogs that have skin infections, dogs that have mange, dogs that have no teeth. I would say the majority of these dogs are going to need dentals. We have a dog here that has no jaw. We have a blind dog," says Oglesby.
Honor and the other local rescue groups are confident that they will be able to rehabilitate the dogs and find them forever homes.
Tax records show the Napier's haven't paid property taxes on their land in seven years.
The criminal investigation is looking into possible animal cruelty and fraud. Manatee County Animal Services and several local animal shelters are helping to house the animals during the investigation.
The owners of the animal sanctuary were not home during the raid. The attorney for Alan and Sheree Napier sent ABC 7 an email in response to Wednesday’s raid, saying the couple was out of town this week to celebrate their anniversary, and that their children were left to care for the animals.
This is something the attorney says the Napier's made aware to Manatee County Animal Services. "No one from Manatee County would sit down with Alan and Sheree and indicate what the problem was that apparently caused the closure of their sanctuary today."
The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday morning that veterinarians on site had to euthanize 12 dogs.
Anyone interested in donating food or supplies for these animals or if they have any other questions or information, can call the Sheriff's Office at 941-747-3011, ext 1151. For adoption questions call Manatee County Animal Services at 941-742-5933.