MARION COUNTY, Fla. – Police said they arrested a 20-year-old woman Thursday after Marion County Animal Control found two dead dogs and 10 other pets living in a Belleview home without food or water for several weeks.
The homeowner has been hospitalized since April and had her daughter Angelina Daniel, 20, taking care of the animals, neighbors told Belleview police.
Animal control investigators were contacted by concerned citizens on June 1. When Belleview police and animal control arrived at the home at 5927 SE Steton Rd., they found feces all over the floor and two dead dogs in the laundry room, according to the report. Utility companies told police that the power was also shut off on May 16 and the water had been cut off since May 31.
A person who had been assisting with looking after the ill homeowner told police that she was at the residence several weeks ago to drop off food for the pets, but was told that Daniel would be taking care of the animals.
Necropsies on the two dead dogs determined that they died of starvation and dehydration, according to the report.
“The animal was also in advanced stage of decomposition, and the cause of death was stated to be starvation and probable dehydration. The contents of the stomach were empty,” Marion County Animal Control wrote of one of the dogs, a long-haired Chihuahua.
These cats are among 10 animals that LIVED in Belleview animal cruelty case. 2 dogs found dead in home. Arrest warrant out for owner. pic.twitter.com/fv9CDrCMdD— Vanessa Araiza (@AraizaReport) June 22, 2017
A veterinarian told police that the surviving 10 animals suffered from neglect. One kitten later died because of its neglected condition, according to the Marion County Animal Control.
An animal control employee told News 6 that the matted hair on one of the dogs was so bad the dog couldn't open its eyes.
"It's hard to believe that anyone can ever treat an animal that way or just not care what's going to happen to defenseless animals," Marion County communication director Nick Zoller said.
When detectives contacted Daniel, she first told them she had last been at the home to care for the animals on June 1, which was the same day the animals were seized by animal control.
"I explained to her that she was lying to me and told her that animal control already had the animals by Thursday night," the police sergeant wrote in his report.
Daniel then said that maybe it was a few nights before June 1, and that she was devastated by the dogs' deaths because they were family pets.
A friend and coworker of Daniel's mother told police that Daniel had not been visiting her mother in the hospital and that they had offered to take care of the animals.
The coworker also said they had offered Daniel money to help, but stopped because she learned Daniel may have a drug addiction.
Police had not been able to contact Daniel since June 6, leading authorities to issue a warrant for her arrest on two counts of animal cruelty and 10 counts of animal abandonment.
Daniel was arrested after 1 p.m. Thursday, police said.
Sgt. Jody Backlund said when Daniel was arrested she said she had been going through a lot of personal problems.
“She said she reached out for help but was not able to get any help," Backlund said. "I talked to several people that told me that they offered to pay some bills. Dog food, even take care of the animals."
In Marion County, Molly’s Law requires convicted offenders to be placed on the animal abuser register. The database is so that shelters, pet sellers and rescues can verify they are not giving an animal to a possible abuser.
Officials said Friday evening that Daniel had surrendered the nine remaining pets to the county and the animals should be available for adoption sometime next week.