BROOKSVILLE — Authorities took more than 60 dogs and cats Wednesday from an animal rescue southeast of Brooksville, after they said the number of animals had overwhelmed their caretaker.
Staff from Hernando County Animal Services and the Sheriff's Office seized between 60 and 70 animals from the home of Carol Allard, 71, on Neff Lake Road, according to Sheriff's Sgt. Matt Lillibridge. The Sheriff's Office had worked with the in-home rescue since 2015 to make sure it followed guidelines and kept the animals safe, he said, but caring for the animals became too difficult for Allard.
Veterinarian Julie Rosenberger performed any medical care she could on site. From there, dogs with medical problems and all cats went to the Animal Services building in Brooksville. Healthy dogs went to another location where Animal Services will house them until they find new homes.
The adoption process cannot begin unless the owner officially signs over the animals to the county. Most of the animals are medically sound and stable, Rosenberger said.
Allard cooperated with the Sheriff's Office, Lillibridge said. Their intention is not to euthanize any animals.
Allard said she is a military veteran and opened the We Care For Paws Foundation in 2000. Her organization provided foster care for animals of homeless people or military veterans, she said, but now she must close her doors.
"I've always been a responsible rescuer, and I adopt responsibly," Allard said. "I'm not a hoarder."
During the process, Animal Services worked with the Florida Veterinary Medical Association and the Florida State Animal Response Coalition.
James Terry, animal services manager, said this is the largest dog seizure he's seen.
"It seems like they caught it before it got too bad," Terry said.
At the start of the day, Allard was told she could keep 10 animals. But 10 dogs were nothing compared to the 84 she said she had, along with an unknown number of cats. She chose the ones that were the least adoptable or the oldest.
For Allard, the seizure didn't make sense.
"Until this last inspection, I passed every inspection I had," Allard said. "I thought I was doing the right thing."
Allard, wearing rain boots and shorts, stood watching as veterinarians examined her animals.
"Choosing 10 dogs is really hard," Allard said.
"I'm workable with you," an Animal Services worker said. "I'm willing to go up to 12."
Allard stood with her hands on her hip, a blue waste bag dispenser in the shape of a dog bone attached to her belt.
She nodded, fighting back tears.