Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Trial starts for Pasco dog owner facing 42 counts of animal cruelty

Diane Lombardi of Hudson is on trial for 42 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty at the West Pasco Judicial Center on Tuesday.

KERI WIGINTON | Times

Diane Lombardi of Hudson is on trial for 42 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty at the West Pasco Judicial Center on Tuesday.

NEW PORT RICHEY — Dog No. 7705 was emaciated with lacerations on its face. Even amid the chaos of animal control workers raiding the Hudson house where the dog lived in a wild and multiplying pack, its heart rate was sluggish.

"I was very worried that this dog was about to die," said Terry Spencer, the veterinarian who examined the animals when they were discovered on Nov. 14, 2007.

Now the woman responsible for caring for them is on trial.

Diane Lombardi, 61, faces 42 counts of animal cruelty, misdemeanor charges that each carry up to a year in jail.

Her trial began Tuesday.

Spencer testified about the condition of each dog: worms, fleas, malnourished, thin coats. Some were too wild to be examined, seemingly never having had contact with a human.

Only two were puppies, because in a situation where the animals would have to compete for limited food, Spencer said, puppies would lose.

Pasco Sheriff's deputies and animal control workers went into Lombardi's house after two people died there within two weeks in the fall of 2007.

The dogs had the run of the main part of the house, which was covered in feces and littered with decaying furniture. Bugs swarmed and crawled on the walls.

Linda Lesack, Lombardi's friend who was in failing health, stayed in a bedroom where the dogs couldn't go. Lombardi fed her meals through a window.

Lombardi herself retreated to live in the garage. Her sister Lois Lombardi, who had cerebral palsy, stayed with her.

Then Lois, who was 64, died on Nov. 6, 2007, followed less than two weeks later by Lesack, 65. That's when sheriff's deputies discovered the conditions in that house and another one across the street that Lombardi inherited from her parents.

All but one of the dogs were removed. Lombardi petitioned for and won back custody of one of them. Most had to be euthanized. The house, on Frost Drive in the Viva Villas subdivision, was eventually demolished.

Assistant State Attorney Kris Parker told jurors in his opening statement about the conditions when animal control workers arrived.

"The smell was so bad that they couldn't get in," he said. "The door wouldn't even open all the way because of the petrified dog feces that had caked around the door."

He said when the dogs were taken to the county shelter, it was a luxury compared with what they had been living in.

"The dogs were starving from fighting with one another," he said. "Only the strong ones were able to eat."

Lombardi's attorney, Dennis Watson, said the situation wasn't as bad as authorities described.

He said Lombardi took sick animals to veterinarians and kept them all fed.

"She was doing her best for them," he said. "She put a roof over their head and gave them food."

Lombardi told the Times in 2007 that she started out with one dog nine years earlier. Then she got another, and it had puppies. Then those puppies had puppies.

As time went by, she took in strays and let people leave their sick dogs with her to rehabilitate, she said.

Animal Services began citing her in 2003. Improper confinement of an aggressive animal, failure to vaccinate, animal running at large. She paid hundreds of dollars in fines.

She acknowledged lying to authorities about the number of dogs she was keeping in her house and the house across the street that she inherited after her parents died.

"I don't believe in having animals put to sleep," she said at the time. "As a result, I kind of got too many."

The trial should finish today. Lombardi is expected to testify.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Trial starts for Pasco dog owner facing 42 counts of animal cruelty 03/30/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 30, 2010 8:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Photo gallery: Calvary Christian rolls to state title

    Blogs

    View a gallery of images from Calvary Christian's defeat of Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers for the Class 4A title.

    Calvary Christian players circle up on the field before the FHSAA class 4A baseball championship against Pensacola Catholic on Friday May 27, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Calvary scored 6 runs in the first inning, and had 7 hits.
  2. Two girls found safe after being reported missing in New Port Richey

    UPDATE: Both girls were found safe Saturday night, police said.

  3. IT failure blamed for British Airways cancellations (w/video)

    Airlines

    LONDON — British Airways canceled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy U.K. holiday weekend.

    Passengers wait at a British Airways check-in desk after the airport suffered an IT systems failure Saturday at London''s Gatwick Airport. [Associated Press]
  4. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title

    Baseballpreps

    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.
  5. Mayor: Men stabbed after anti-Muslin rant died as 'heroes' (w/video)

    Nation

    PORTLAND, Ore. — Police said Saturday they'll examine what appears to be the extremist ideology of an Oregon man accused of fatally stabbing two men who tried to intervene when the suspect yelled racial slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim on a Portland light-rail train.

    A sign of thanks rests against a traffic light pole at a memorial outside the transit center on Saturday in Portland, Ore. [Associated Press]