No-kill animal rescue hosting pet adoption

Special-needs pets among victims of St. Augustine financial fraud scheme

GREENVILLE, Fla. - A local animal rescue center was one of the victims of St. Augustine's biggest financial scandals.

When Lydia Cladek was ordered to pay back $34 million after a conviction for fraud earlier this year, the federal government seized all of her property, including the hundreds of animals that were located at a sanctuary in Greenville -- just off Interstate 10 between Lake City and Tallahassee.

Alya's Acres No-Kill Animal Rescue was born in May after all of Cladek's properties were foreclosed on. Fran Charlson saved the sanctuary.

"They're victims twice over because they are either ill or people don't want them," said Charlson.

Ayla's Acres No-Kill Animal Rescue is now home to about 300 animals and about 75 percent of them are from Duval and St. Johns counties.

"We didn't know what was going to happen to the sanctuary so Aylas Acres decided to acquire it because those animals out there are victims," said Charlson.

Providing for the animals has been expensive and Charlson said it's hard to keep their head above water; especially with the fall out from the fraudulent businesses.

But to keep with its purpose, the shelter is hosting an adoption this weekend to help get a lot of the animals new homes. Some have health problems or disabilities others are simply older, but doing it, Charlson says, is proof something positive can come from Cladek's crimes.

"It's a struggle but we are going to keep doing it because they need us and we don't want them to be victims a third time," Charlson said.

Cladek was sentenced to 30 years in jail last September.

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