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Animals seized from Our Animal Haus sanctuary put up for adoption

Christina Hall holds a dachshund that her mom, Peggy Murphy, right, wanted to adopt from Animal Services in Brooksville on Thursday. Another viewing is from 10 a.m. to noon today.

LOGAN NEILL | Times

Christina Hall holds a dachshund that her mom, Peggy Murphy, right, wanted to adopt from Animal Services in Brooksville on Thursday. Another viewing is from 10 a.m. to noon today.

BROOKSVILLE — It didn't take long for Peggy Murphy to find a fast friend.

Lifting the young chocolate-dappled dachshund from its kennel, Murphy was immediately greeted with nonstop licks to the face.

"This one's a sweetie," she told her daughter, Christina Hall, as she hugged the dog. "This dog needs a good home."

That, of course, was the plan Thursday as Hernando County Animal Services held the first of two public inspections of animals seized by court order last week from the financially troubled Our Animal Haus sanctuary on Lanark Road. By the end of the viewing at noon, 10 people had applied to adopt a dog.

Though most of the 50 people who showed up at the county shelter on Oliver Street were there to view 36 mostly mixed-breed dogs, some said they came to inspect the more than 40 exotic birds taken from the sanctuary.

Marion Hammond, who recently lost one of her two macaws to disease, said she was hoping to find a companion for her surviving bird. However, she worried about reports that the birds had been neglected by their previous owners.

"These birds are very social," Hammond said. "You can't just throw food into the cage and leave. They need lots of love and attention."

According to animal control reports, those things seemed to be in short supply at the sanctuary run by Carol Mas and her husband, Estebahn Agustinho. Over nine separate visits, officers noted growing instances of animal neglect, including severely malnourished animals, unsanitary cages, and diseased and injured animals that were not receiving proper veterinary care.

On Oct. 29, County Judge Kurt Hitzemann ordered the sanctuary closed and turned control of the more than 200 animals owned by Mas and Agustinho to Animal Services.

According to Animal Services supervisor Patrick Pace, most of the animals have responded well to treatment. But nearly all of the nearly 100 cats seized from the 12-acre sanctuary had to be euthanized because they suffered from or were exposed to a variety of communicable diseases that were difficult to treat.

Meanwhile, Mas was back in court Thursday with her attorney, Lynn Bauer, in an attempt to stay Hitzemann's order and to stop the adoption and sale of her animals until a proper appeal could be filed.

County attorney Erica Moore countered that her office had already worked out a generous stipulation deal that would allow Mas to keep several animals as personal pets.

"This is nothing more than a stalling technique," Moore told the judge.

Hitzemann denied the stay, saying that Mas could file an appeal on certain aspects of his ruling, including her three-year ban on acquiring new animals, or the assessment of nearly $6,000 she owes the county for expenses and care of her animals.

Animal Services will have another viewing of seized animals from 10 a.m. to noon today. Dogs not adopted after today will be showcased at the Humane Society of the Nature Coast's annual Fur Fest on Nov. 14 at Tom Varn Park in Brooksville.

An Animal Services spokeswoman said details of the online auction of the birds and other livestock will be announced early next week.

Logan Neill can be reached at lneill@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1435.

Animals seized from Our Animal Haus sanctuary put up for adoption 11/05/09 [Last modified: Thursday, November 5, 2009 7:12pm]

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