Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Jury finds Hudson woman guilty of animal cruelty

Diane Lombardi of Hudson faces possible jail time and probation at her sentencing.


Diane Lombardi of Hudson faces possible jail time and probation at her sentencing.

NEW PORT RICHEY — Diane Lombardi started out with just one dog, an Australian shepherd named Bear. Then she took in Susie, who was followed later by Hank.

By the fall of 2007, Lombardi's litter had ballooned to about 40 dogs. And when her sister, who was 64 and disabled, was admitted to a hospital, Lombardi lost any ability to control the animals and the situation.

She couldn't find homes for the dogs, and she said she couldn't abide the idea of taking them to a shelter where she knew they'd be euthanized.

"I kind of got in over my head," Lombardi testified Wednesday in her trial on 42 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty.

After deliberating for less than an hour Wednesday, a jury found her guilty of all counts.

Lombardi, 61, will be sentenced today. She faces possible jail time and probation.

Lombardi owned a home on Frost Drive in the Viva Villas subdivision in Hudson and another across the street that she inherited from her parents. She had been taking care of her sister and another sick woman. After both of them died in November 2007, authorities went in and discovered the conditions.

Lombardi and her sister had been living in the garage because the dogs had taken over the house. The other woman stayed in a back bedroom.

Prosecutor Kris Parker called the main living area a "despicable hell" — feces several inches thick, bugs swarming and an overwhelming, toxic odor. A veterinarian who examined the dogs found them all infested with fleas. Many were underweight and had worms and parasites.

Eventually, 37 were euthanized. Lombardi's house was demolished.

Her lawyer called the situation sad, but not a crime.

"This is a case of someone doing her best," Dennis Watson told jurors.

Lombardi's daughter testified that her mother always fed the dogs, even if it meant going without food for herself. Rachel Lombardi also tried to allege that the photos taken in her mother's house had been altered.

"There's places where animal feces couldn't even get, on walls and windows, unless someone put it there," Rachel Lombardi said.

Lombardi acknowledged that there were too many dogs for her to care for herself.

"It was too many. I wanted the dogs to have individual attention," she said. But "as far as cruelty, my God, never could I ever hurt an animal."

Molly Moorhead can be reached at or (727) 869-6245.

Jury finds Hudson woman guilty of animal cruelty 03/31/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 7:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. All-eyes photo gallery: Florida State Seminoles loss to the N.C. State Wolfpack


    View a gallery of images from the Florida State Seminoles 27-21 loss to the N.C. State Wolfpack Saturday in Tallahassee. The Seminoles will face Wake Forest on Saturday, Sept. 30 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

    Florida State Seminoles fans sing the fight song during the Florida State Seminoles game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack on September 23, 2017, at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.  At the half, North Carolina State Wolfpack 17, Florida State Seminoles 10.
  2. Encounters: Trial by storm for a rookie principal


    DUNEDIN — When he nodded off to sleep, the hallway lights outside Michael Vasallo's office were on, so the sudden darkness woke him.

    The glow of his desk phone dimmed.

    Michael Vasallo, right, the first-year principal at Dunedin Highland Middle School, talks with the school's head plant operator Clint Case near the back-up generator on campus. The generator failed just as Hurricane Irma passed through Pinellas County, making for a stressful night. The experience made Vasallo long to return to his regular job, educating middle schoolers. [COLEEN WRIGHT   |   Times]

  3. Who is in charge during a hurricane? Hillsborough County and Tampa still can't agree


    TAMPA — Who has the authority to order an evacuation during a hurricane?

    Mayor Bob Buckhorn says he has evacuation authority.
  4. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31


    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  5. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win


    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season.