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Authorities seek warrant after dozens of animals found at Pasco home

Published Dec. 2, 2013

HUDSON — Authorities will seek a warrant this morning to inspect the inside of a northern Pasco County home where deputies said dozens of animals, including dogs and marsupials, are being kept.

Pasco County Sheriff's Office deputies found the animals at 18310 Montour Drive, near Spring Hill, after responding to a neighbor's complaint of barking and shouting in the home.

The county's Animal Control also became involved after deputies expressed concerns about possible animal hoarding and neglect on the property, according to Melanie Snow, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office.

The one-story home is on a 5.46-acre parcel just south of County Line Road, property records show.

Deputies believed the homeowners are keeping more than 50 dogs, including 11 that were removed from outside the home Sunday afternoon, Snow said. The Sheriff's Office also said the homeowners have horses and sugar gliders and perhaps other animals. There was no evidence the animals found outside were malnourished, Snow added.

The homeowners, whom deputies had not named, have refused to allow authorities inside.

For now, the Sheriff's Office is turning the case over to county code enforcement, which is requesting a search warrant to make sure the homeowners aren't violating ordinances. "They'll also check if the animals are malnourished, in which case they would turn the case over to Animal Control," Snow said.

According to state and county records, Joseph and Linda Romeo own the property. Both are listed as corporate officers of Sleepy Hollow Dog Rescue. The rescue's Facebook page features photos of animals, solicits donations for injured dogs and offers animals for adoption.

Neither Romeo could be reached for comment Sunday evening.

The homeowners told deputies they function as an animal rescue. But the Sheriff's Office said in a statement from Snow "that is in question."

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