HUDSON — Rescue groups worked on Thursday to find shelter for more than 60 dogs and other animals discovered on Sunday in filthy conditions.
About 30 dogs remain at the property just south of the Hernando County line, said Mike Shumate, director of Pasco Animal Services. He said he's counting on a "pretty extensive network" to place the remaining animals in coming weeks.
Sheriff's deputies responding to arguing in the home at 18310 Montour Drive discovered the menagerie — cats, horses, mules, a potbelly pig and possums. Pasco Animal Services inspectors arrived later and put out calls for assistance to save the animals.
Records show the 5.5-acre property as owned by Joseph and Linda Romeo, but Pasco officials said the entity that housed all the dogs — Sleepy Hollow Dog Rescue Inc. — was operated by the couple's daughter, Jo-Lynn Romeo. Efforts to reach them were unsuccessful.
Danyelle Ho, donor relations coordinator for the Tampa Bay Humane Society, described what she saw when she arrived at the property in the Oak Lakes subdivision.
"There was a horse trailer in the driveway that was packed full of dogs in crates, floor to ceiling," she said on Thursday. "They were just packed in there. The smell was horrible."
Pasco Animal Services was already at capacity, so it sought help from rescue groups. In addition to the Humane Society, three others stepped up this week: the Suncoast Animal League, SPCA Suncoast and Rugaz Rescue.
"It seemed like she tried to do the best she could, but it just got to be too much for her," said Rick Chaboudy, executive director of the Suncoast Animal League, who visited the home Thursday.
Ho said she had never seen anything like it when she climbed out of the Society's rescue van. The attached garage was covered "in 4 inches of feces" that a worker was attempting to shovel out.
"From what I was told, there were feces on the walls and on the door leading into the house," she added.
Chaboudy said he was nearly bowled over by the smell from a barn with about 20 stalls housing horses and dogs. The dogs were kept in cages packed into stalls, often atop mounds of horse manure "they didn't even clean out. They just put the cages in there on top of the manure," he said. The horses had no food or hay, which is why some groups donated food.
Officials said they were surprised the dogs weren't in worse condition. Many looked thin, but more often they suffered from fleas, scabs and general uncleanliness. A few appeared traumatized, cowering at the sight of people, said Sherry Silk, the Humane Society's executive director.
"Those are the ones that need love and affection," she said.
Reach Rich Shopes at [email protected] or (727) 869-6236.