Sunday, May 20, 2018
Public safety

48 dogs rescued from mobile home in Thonotosassa

THONOTOSASSA — Inside the blue mobile home, past the towering piles of personal belongings, sat 48 cages filled with dogs.

As a canine foster parent, Mary Grettenberger had helped rescue each one.

On Thursday, Hillsborough County Animal Services stepped in to rescue them again.

Living in filth, many of the dogs were caked in feces and crawling with fleas, said Marti Ryan, an Animal Services spokeswoman.

The four dozen dogs, including terriers and Chihuahuas, appeared to have serious skin, eye and teeth problems, she said.

According to authorities, Grettenberger was housing the dogs as part of Heart to Heart Small Dog Rescue, a registered nonprofit group. The dogs came from rescue organizations and shelters as far away as Tennessee.

Grettenberger is listed as a treasurer of the organization.

"What her original intent was, we don't know," Ryan said. "But this casts a very bad shadow over rescue groups." No charges were filed Thursday.

Heart to Heart Small Dog Rescue is a national organization, based in Sebastian, "comprised of caring foster parents devoted to the dogs," according to the organization's website.

In a statement by its board of directors, the group said they became aware of a "potential problem" with the amount of dogs Grettenberger was housing earlier this month.

"At least 10 dogs were being moved this weekend but before that could happen, all the dogs were seized from the home, including her personal dogs," the statement said.

The group also noted that not all the dogs involved were Heart to Heart rescues.

Grettenberger declined to comment.

Tim Bower Rodriguez, who said he is her attorney, issued a statement saying in part that, "If guilty of anything, she is guilty of loving and caring too much for the dogs that she rescues before they are killed by the Hillsborough County Animal Services shelter."

In an e-mail, Nadine Chiodini, a member of Heart to Heart, said that the last time she received rescues from Grettenberger, the dogs were in good condition.

"No fleas or ticks, these dogs were healthy and well fed," she wrote. "They were vetted and had health certificates."

The investigation into the animal abuse began weeks ago after Hillsborough animal rescue received an anonymous complaint. They made visits to the home and built a case, Ryan said.

Authorities served a warrant early Thursday on the home at 11902 Fort King Highway.

The room where the animals were kept was dimly lit and noisy from all the barking, Ryan said. Very dirty pads used for potty training were on the floor.

After receiving medical treatment, the dogs will have their futures decided in court.

"These animals could easily be placed in homes," said Pam Perry, investigations manager for Animal Services. "A true rescuer with real compassion places those animals and doesn't keep them to themselves."

Comments
Family, friends recall shooting victims’ optimism, humor

Family, friends recall shooting victims’ optimism, humor

SANTA FE, Texas — Hardworking. Funny. Loving. Grieving family and friends recalled the endearing qualities of some of the victims of Friday’s mass shooting at a Texas high school, as authorities on Saturday released the names of the 10 killed. Eight ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Burglary suspect jumps into Hillsborough canal to escape deputies, officials say

Burglary suspect jumps into Hillsborough canal to escape deputies, officials say

TAMPA — After a botched burglary, a fleeing suspect jumped into a canal to escape deputies Saturday afternoon, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.The person has not yet been identified. The suspect tried to break into a business on...
Published: 05/19/18
Cuba: 110 died in plane crash, 3 survivors ‘critical’

Cuba: 110 died in plane crash, 3 survivors ‘critical’

HAVANA — The only three survivors of Cuba’s worst aviation disaster in three decades were clinging to life Saturday, a day after their passenger jet crashed in a fireball in Havana’s rural outskirts with 113 people on board. In the first official dea...
Published: 05/19/18
He lured young men looking for weed. Their bodies turned up in a pig roaster.

He lured young men looking for weed. Their bodies turned up in a pig roaster.

Cosmo DiNardo declared "I am a savage no explanation needed" on social media seven months before police say he lured four young men to his family’s farm, shot them to death, ran one of them over with a backhoe and dumped three of their bodies in a pi...
Published: 05/19/18
Off-duty Largo firefighter arrested on DUI charge

Off-duty Largo firefighter arrested on DUI charge

DUNEDIN — Pinellas County sheriff’s deputies arrested an off-duty Largo firefighter found asleep at the wheel shortly after 4 a.m. Saturday.Patrol deputies saw a 2013 Dodge Dart, facing west and stopped in the intersection of Main Street and Bass Bou...
Published: 05/19/18
After Texas school shooting, Tampa Bay officials will step up security

After Texas school shooting, Tampa Bay officials will step up security

Hours after Friday’s deadly school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, bay area law enforcement officials pledged to beef up school security for the last remaining days of the school year.Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister held a news conference late Frid...
Published: 05/18/18
Largo police seek person of interest linked to missing man

Largo police seek person of interest linked to missing man

LARGO — Police are searching for a person of interest in the January disappearance of a 24-year-old man.The missing man is Timothy Patrick Cullen, 24, who Largo police said was last seen Jan. 22 at his home in the 500 block of Seventh Ave NE. His veh...
Published: 05/18/18
Pasco man accused of abusing 3-month-old infant

Pasco man accused of abusing 3-month-old infant

BAYONET POINT — A 26-year-old man was arrested Thursday on a charge of aggravated child abuse and accused of fracturing an infant’s skull, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.Brandon Scott Madrishin told deputies that a 3-month-old infant ...
Published: 05/18/18
20 years later, Hank Earl Carr’s victims are still loved and remembered

20 years later, Hank Earl Carr’s victims are still loved and remembered

When her school bus pulled up to her house that day, Ashley Bell spotted her mom’s car in the driveway and wondered why it was there. A 14-year-old latchkey kid, Bell usually got home before her mother Carolyn arrived from her job as a nurse at St. J...
Published: 05/18/18
Teen held in Texas attack is said to have used father’s guns

Teen held in Texas attack is said to have used father’s guns

SANTA FE, Texas — The Texas student charged in the school shooting at Santa Fe High School posted an image on Facebook of himself wearing a "Born to Kill" shirt and used his father’s shotgun and pistol in the attack that left 10 dead and 10 wounded, ...
Published: 05/18/18