Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas dealer faces animal neglect charges

The East Lake woman who had 120 dogs taken from her home faces 46 animal neglect charges despite a civil judge's order that 60 of the dogs be returned.

Each of the misdemeanor charges Teresita Hughes faces carry up to one year in prison and up to a $5,000 fine.

Hughes' lawyer, David Parry, said his client will plead not guilty.

In April, officials of the Suncoast Animal League in Palm Harbor had the Pinellas Sheriff's Office accompany them to Hughes' home after receiving complaints about the living conditions of the dogs there. The league took possession of 120 Pomeranians, Yorkshire terriers and Maltese and went to court last month to gain custody.

Pinellas County Judge Myra Scott McNary ordered Suncoast director Rick Chaboudy to return 60 of the healthiest dogs because Chaboudy didn't have the legal authority to confiscate them.

Parry said that's still the case and the new charges don't change anything.

"They don't have a legal standing to the dogs,'' he said. "What if she is found not guilty? They don't have the right to take them at all."

Hughes has been a permitted dealer with Pinellas County Animal Services since March 1999 and passed all her six-month inspections.

She installed a special drainage system for the dogs and had a closed circuit television so she could monitor the dogs from other rooms.

Animal Services had inspected the Hughes home in February and found that she had 86 dogs on hand and had sold seven puppies to out-of-state customers since the last inspection in August of 2007. All the paperwork was up to date and the dogs were current on their shots and licenses, according to Animal Services.

But when Suncoast returned in April, they were met with a horrific odor and 120 dogs, many of them sick, officials say.

Linda Britland, Animal Services field manager, said her inspectors don't have the authority to search homes. She said inspections are done to ensure the animals have food, water, shelter, room to move around, clean air flow and that they are up on their shots.

She said the inspectors are not veterinarians and can only inspect what the homeowner allows them to see.

"When they take us into a bedroom or back room and they say this is what we have, that's what we have to inspect, we can't just walk around their homes," Britland said.

And because of recent budget cuts, inspections will become less frequent. Unless there is a complaint, breeders will now be inspected once a year instead of twice.

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at 445-4174 or

Pinellas dealer faces animal neglect charges 08/07/08 [Last modified: Thursday, August 14, 2008 4:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rowdies shut out at Pittsburgh


    PITTSBURGH — The Rowdies lost their first USL game in nearly a month, 1-0 to Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

  2. Trump reveals that he didn't record Comey after all


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared Thursday he never made and doesn't have recordings of his private conversations with ousted former FBI director James Comey, ending a monthlong guessing game that he started with a cryptic tweet and that ensnared his administration in yet more controversy.

    President Donald Trump said Thursday that he didn’t record his conversations with James Comey.
  3. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick tonight in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case


    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  5. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate


    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.