DeLAND, Fla. - A hearing has been set for the owners of a DeLand animal shelter where more than 100 animals were rescued last week after police received complaints that the shelter was keeping the animals in unsafe conditions.
Local 6 was at the Animal Rescue Konsortium on Thursday when 135 animals, including 100 cats and 26 dogs were removed from the shelter.
The hearing date has been set for November 19 at 1 p.m. and will be held at the DeLand courthouse. No one has been charged, according to authorities.
Fire department officials wore oxygen masks and used fans to air out the facility.
By Thursday night, most of the animals had been relocated to government-run animal shelters or private rescue facilities. About forty roaming cats were left inside the home overnight, but were removed from the home Friday.
"I'm appalled at what's happening," said ARK's owner Maggi Hall, who insists the dogs and cats that get dropped off on her front porch are well cared for. "We have 100 percent adoption rate, and spend over $50,000 annually on medication for the animals."
Police brought in veterinarians, which determined the animals were in poor living conditions and many in need of medical attention.
"They are important to all of us because we love each and every one of them," said Jennifer Johnson, who works and lives at the Animal Rescue Konsortium off Woodland Avenue in DeLand.
Johnson told Local 6 she was shocked when police served her a search warrant Thursday morning on complaints of animal mistreatment.
"The living conditions? We do everything every day," said Johnson. "I never sit down."
Deputy Chief Randel Henderson walked through the facility and said the smell of the conditions is indescribable.
"I can't describe the smell. 126 animals inside enclosed area. You can imagine what the odor would be like," Henderson said.
Local 6 spoke to several people who said they issued complaints from noise violations to the conditions the animals are forced to live in. Others who work for the shelter said they were shocked to hear of the allegations.
"Whatever is going on. I just can't believe it," said Melissa Dahm.
Johnson said although they have more than 100 animals at the shelter, their love for animals in need is what caused them to take in so many pets.
"There was a dog that was dumped out, just left there like it was worthless," said Johnson. "Well, it's not worthless to us because we love them and that's what we are here for."
The dogs and cats will be staying at five different volunteer shelters in Volusia county.
A hearing will be held to determine if the owner can keep the pets based on the conditions of the animals and the condition of the shelter.
The 126 animals taken from the shelter will be available for adoption after the hearing. If you want to adopt an animal call the DeLand Animal Control.
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