Napier animal abuse investigation raises questions about Animal Services

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It's been a week since more than 300 animals were rescued from the poor living conditions at Napier's Log Cabin Horse & Animals Sanctuary in Bradenton.

The Manatee County Sheriff's Office continues the animal cruelty and fraud investigation -- but now there are questions surrounding four years of Animal Services reports on the Napier's facility.

"Was it the best living conditions? It was not inside, but was it abuse? Absolutely not." This according to Peter Lombardo, the Napiers' lawyer. Lombardo spoke with ABC 7 Wednesday afternoon and says the Napiers took care of the 300 animals to the best of their ability.

"Some of these animals were in very rough shape when they took them," Lombardo says. He also says that most of the sick animals were already sick when they were given to the Napiers, who the attorney says did their best to medicate, feed and clean them.

The Napiers are confused as to why they are being investigated now, since Animal Services has been coming to their property to inspect the kennels since 2009.

"The county came out. They would come out every 3-4 months and they would see the animals in the condition that they were in," Lombardo says. They weren't shut down. They were never even cited."

Manatee county officials met with commissioners Tuesday to discuss the animal cruelty investigation and the counties involvement.

"It's our responsibility to look at what we did throughout those years since 2009. Cross check what reporting had been done, what was found at the time and do sort of an internal audit," says Manatee County Commissioner Michael Gallenardo.

Animal Services officers were only taken through certain areas of the animal sanctuary and were not brought indoors. The Napier's lawyer says they never asked to go inside.

But county commissioners will conduct their own internal investigation on the animal services reports.

"Make sure no stone is left unturned. Figure out what went wrong if anything, and make sure that it doesn't happen again, and that we're on top of it. And that if we do need to make corrections and changes in the future then we do," Gallenardo said.

The investigation is still ongoing. The dogs are in the custody of Manatee County Sheriff's Office and are being taken care of.

Lombardo says that his clients want the animals back, and that the Napiers plan to fight for custody of the animals because they do not believe they did anything wrong when it comes to animal cruelty or neglect.