Arcadia dog breeder facing cruelty charges back in DeSoto

Rose Anne Romano
Rose Anne Romano(DeSoto County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Dec. 13, 2021 at 10:18 AM EST
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DESOTO COUNTY, Fla. (Sun Newspapers) - A dog breeder from Arcadia wanted on neglect charges after allegedly abandoning 80 dogs in October is in the DeSoto County Jail after being extradited from Virginia, the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office said.

According to our coverage partners at Sun Newspapers, deputies took Rose Anne Romano, 39, into custody Thursday.

Romano, an employee of Strawberry Farms in Arcadia, was arrested in Salem, Virginia, after an arrest warrant was issued.

The DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office originally reported that Romano would be charged with 82 counts of animal neglect and two counts of forging medical documents for animals.

Sheriff’s Office records also listed 18 counts of causing cruel death, pain, or suffering to animals, two counts of offering a false statement, one count of using fraud to obtain property valued under $20,000, having no health certificate for transported dog or cat, and knowingly misrepresenting the breed, sex, or health of a dog or cat.

Romano was in the DeSoto County Jail on Monday with a total bond of $76,500. Her next court appearance is scheduled for Jan 31, 2022.

On Oct. 28, deputies received a call from a customer of Strawberry Farms, who claimed their puppy had allegedly lost around five pounds while under the care of Romano.

An initial investigation found more complaints from previous employees, records of arrests in St. Petersburg, and a letter from a veterinarian who had to decline spaying one puppy because “she had wounds on her face... no palpable fat... ribs, vertebrae and pelvic bones easily visible.”

A search warrant was executed on the property. Deputies and DeSoto County Animal Control officers seized 39 adult dogs, 19 puppies, and 26 other animals. Deputies said there was no sign of food or water and there were feces and urine everywhere.

Robert Polk, another employee at Strawberry Farms, was arrested at the scene and charged with 82 counts of neglect. An arrest warrant for neglect was issued for Romano, as well as two felony counts of forging medical documents.

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