Former pet shop owner pleads guilty after dogs found stashed in freezer

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (CBS12) -- Was a local pet shop owner hoarding dogs, by keeping their carcasses in the freezer?

On Thursday, Debora Van Oort was in court, pleading guilty in a shocking case of animal cruelty.

Back in 2011, Van Oort ran a pet shop on Lantana Road.

Investigators raided the store and Van Oort's apartment nearby, finding two dead Golden Retriever puppies at the business, and remains of five dogs in Van Oort's freezer.

Officers also found living animals in poor condition.

For months, Van Oort was deemed incompetent to stand trial. Thursday prosecutors said Van Oort received extensive therapy, allowing the case to proceed.

Under a plea deal, Van Oort pleaded guilty to 14 counts of felony animal cruelty. She'll serve a year of house arrest, without a monitor, followed by two years of probation.

"That is something we often associate with hoarding," said Animal Control Captain David Walesky, referring to putting animal remains in a freezer.

"There is a psychological disorder that makes it difficult to separate with the animal, whether they're live or dead," said Captain Walesky.

At the time, Van Oort blamed a dispute with her landlord for a lack of air conditioning in her shop.

"If you own an animal," said Captain Walesky, "it's your responsibility to ensure that animal is given a humane existence."


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