St. Petersburg, Florida - It's the case of a dog breeder turned-animal hoarder, according to Sarasota Sheriff deputies.
Investigators say Venice homeowner Donna Faircloth is facing possible charges of animal neglect after deputies found dozens of metal wire cages housing a variety of small dog breeds in her back yard. The case is still under investigation.
Photo Gallery: Over 250 animals rescued from Venice home
About a dozen animal rescue groups have since taken in all 263 dogs. But before they are adopted out, they have to be checked out by a veterinarian to make sure they are healthy enough to go to their new homes.
Dr. Raul Buso carries two white poodles into an exam room. One is about 6 months old and the other a year and half. The dogs have no names just numbers to identify them. "They are very nervous. They have been taken from one environment to the next," say Dr. Buso.
Along with staff at Haines Road Animal Hospital, Dr. Buso is caring for 28 poodles taken in by Florida Poodle Rescue. Dr. Buso says, "In this situation, they are pretty matted down with hair. There are a lot of external and internal parasites." He adds, "I'm surprised there weren't more major injuries."
Groomers from as far away as Miami have given the dogs a make-over. Before pictures show how they looked when rescued and pictures taken after their baths and haircuts leave them barely recognizable.
Dr. Buso says, "They are really young. They can be trained, they have room to grow to be educated and trained really well. We are hopeful for these dogs."
Half of the dogs taken in by Florida Poodle Rescue are being housed at Kellogg Kennel while they wait for their trip to the vet.
Patricia Bonati with Florida Poodle Rescue says volunteers often see this kind of neglect. Bonati says the older dogs will have the toughest time making the transition to a new home.
"The older ones like those here are petrified. House breaking will be the worst on the foster families, but socialization will be the worst on them -- getting used to having hands come up to them."
It's costing Florida Poodle Rescue at least $300 per dog to meet their medical needs. They now need more foster homes and more donations to get ready for the next group of abused or neglected animals.
Florida Poodle Rescue says while some of the animals are ready for adoption, others need some fostering. Here's a list of the rescue groups that have taken in dogs from the Venice home:
- Almost Home 941-704-4765
- Florida Little Dog Rescue 407-279-1127
- Honor Sanctuary 941-320-0933
- Canine Castaways 863-491-2101
- Safe Haven 941-301-4875
- Suncoast Humane Society 941-474-7884
- Underdog Rescue 941-746-9663
- Florida Poodle Rescue 727-265-1766
- Kickapoo Rescue 941-922-2968
- Certified Preowned Dogs 727-644-1341
- Ashton Animal Clinic 941-927-2700
- VIP Rescue 407-504-8318