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87 ANIMALS REMOVED FROM PUPPY BREEDER

LITHIA

Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies investigating a puppy breeder Wednesday afternoon called the detached garage where the animals were kept as "the dungeon." It was filled with sawdust, compost and feces, according to Hillsborough County Animal Services. Puppy Luv, owned and operated by Ian and Chrissy Roth at 1306 Pelote Cemetery Road, specializes in small dogs. Animal Services officials investigated a tip about the substandard treatment of the puppies the couple was selling for profit. They removed more than 87 animals including four cats and four already dead dogs, said Marti Ryan, an Animal Services spokeswoman.

YANKEETOWN

Coast Guard awaits DNA test on body

The Coast Guard is awaiting DNA results of a body found in the Gulf of Mexico about 15 miles south of here before resuming a search for victims of a plane crash there last week. A single-engine plane bound for Vandenberg Airport went off the radar near Yankeetown on Nov. 30. Only a bit of debris from the craft has been found. The two men who were on board, Zachary Schlitt and David Peckham, remain missing. A Coast Guard search was called off that week. On Monday afternoon, a commercial fishing boat found a body in the Gulf of Mexico, but it's still unknown whether the person is Schlitt or Peckham. The body was turned over to the Lake County Medical Examiner's Office for DNA identification. If the body turns out to be one of the missing men, the Coast Guard might search for the other victim, spokesman Robert Simpson said.

ST. PETERSBURG

Wachovia Bank sues Rep. Rouson

Wachovia Bank has sued state Rep. Darryl Rouson for breach of contract involving a loan it made to his former law firm. One of the claims in the case is that Rouson had not made payments on the loan. But the attorney who filed the complaint said he spoke with Rouson Wednesday night and expects an out-of-court solution. "Based upon our conversation, I think we're working toward a very prompt resolution of the matter," said John Brennan, an attorney for Wachovia in Orlando. Rouson represents state House District 55, which spans parts of four counties, including Pinellas and Hillsborough.

ST. PETERSBURG

250,000 visitors drawn by Rays

Tampa Bay Rays games brought slightly more than 250,000 overnight visitors to the county during the team's 2008 regular season, according to the study released Wednesday to Pinellas County tourism officials. That represents 5 percent of the 5.2-million annual visitors who spend at least one night in Pinellas. Visiting fans spent $70-million, said the study by Research Data Services of Tampa, which compiles visitor statistics for the county. They had a total impact of $126-million, if you count how the money recirculates through the local economy, the study concluded. The numbers could help bolster a bid for public funding to build a stadium. Rays officials earlier this year proposed using a portion of the county's 5 percent hotel bed tax to help finance a $450-million stadium on St. Petersburg's waterfront.

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