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Monday, Jan 21, 2019
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Hernando officials seize 36 neglected dogs from sanctuary

WEEKI WACHEE — A woman who runs an animal sanctuary will face dozens of animal cruelty charges after Hernando County animal enforcement officers said they found dogs, equine, pigs, cats and chickens housed in poor conditions on her property.

Animal officers first visited the sanctuary, at 12475 Kildeer Road, on May 13 for an annual inspection, the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office said. They found 36 dogs, mostly shepherds, with inadequate shelter and access to water.

Several of the dogs had ear injuries and required veterinary services. Others were held in pens that were too small and covered in mud, feces and urine, deputies said.

Animal officers said they gave the owner, Lori Watts, 51, two days to correct the violations and have the dogs seen by a veterinarian.

The next day, a veterinarian visited Watts’ property and determined Watts had neglected the dogs.

On May 16, an animal officer returned to Watts’ property. Officials said Watts hadn’t addressed the violations. Watts also had 46 equine — horses, mules and minis — three pigs, six cats and a flock of roosters and chickens that were in poor shape, too.

Deputies removed the dogs from the property, and Friday a judge ordered the remaining animals also be removed. The animals were taken to the Hernando County fairgrounds in Brooksville, where rescue groups cared for them. The animals will eventually be put up for adoption.

Watts will face 36 counts of animal cruelty for the dogs, officials said.

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