100+ animals rescued from ‘deplorable conditions’ at Clay County property

CLAY COUNTY, FLa. – More than 100 animals were found at a home Monday on Old Jennings Road after an investigation there revealed deplorable conditions, according to Clay County Sheriff Michelle Cook.

John Ward, director of the Clay County Division of Emergency Management, said during an evening news conference that approximately 100 dogs, 42 rabbits, 33 chickens, five pigeons and an unknown number of goats were found on the 1-acre property.

“Lots of puppies. Lots of dogs that are pregnant,” Cook said.

Over the course of the day, crates of animals were transported to the Clay County Fairgrounds where the animals would be assessed by veterinarians, cleaned up, fed and housed under quarantine until they can be released. Ward said there were not any “significant diseases,” but he said the veterinarians were still assessing the animals.

Deputies are investigating potential animal neglect or abuse at the site. Care was taken to protect the safety of the first responders, some of whom wore hazardous materials suits during a search of the property.

The number of first responders and vehicles forced the Sheriff’s Office to close Old Jennings Road but Cook assured the public there was no danger to the public.

Cook said the criminal investigation began a few weeks ago after one of two residents at the home called rescue for a medical emergency and first responders reported the number of animals and conditions they observed. The Sheriff’s Office, working with Animal Services officers, obtained a search warrant and raided the home about 7:30 a.m. Monday.

“I think there is a bit of relief to know that it’s being handled and things are being taken care of,” said a neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous.

Cook said it was too early to determine if there would be any arrests or criminal charges filed.

“We will not tolerate animal neglect in Clay County,” Commission Chairman Mike Cella said.

Ward urged the public to help by donating dry and canned dog food, treats, toys, dog shampoo, puppy pads, collars and leashes to the rescue effort. The items can be brought to the fairgrounds between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. starting Tuesday or people can order supplies to be delivered by selecting from the wish list created on Amazon by Clay County Animal Services.

People who want to donate or volunteer can call 877-252-9362 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., starting Tuesday, to help the rescue effort.

“We’re really looking for volunteers that have had animal experience, you know, working with animals, that type of thing is what we’re looking for,” Ward said.

Once the animals are released, both medically and from the criminal investigation, and they are spayed or neutered, many will be available for adoption. Cook said that process could take from two weeks to a couple of months.

“I’ve got a soft spot for animals -- I really do --- and we are not going to tolerate animal cruelty, animal abuse, animal neglect,” Cook said. “I would strongly (suggest) anybody who knows where there is animal abuse going on, let us know.”

More than 100 animals were found at a home Monday on Old Jennings Road after an investigation there revealed deplorable conditions, according Sheriff Michelle Cook.

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