Hudson, Pasco County - They had names like Molly and Pebbles, and one after one, workers for Pasco Animal Services loaded the dogs into vans. It took hours for officials to convince Jo-Lynn Romeo, the owner of Sleepy Hollow Dog Rescue, to relinquish control.
"She's got more dogs than she can handle," said Animal Services Director Mike Shumate out at the scene. "It's just to the point, we realize her mentality is to hang onto these animals. She's not going to give them up."
Last week, Animal Services discovered more than 50 dogs on the property. The county took custody, but left the dogs on-site. Some people involved with other rescue groups who came out to get the dogs criticized that move, because of the deplorable conditions they discovered. They say the cages were covered with feces and urine. One woman wrote 10 News saying, "The stench squeezes the breath out of you."
But Animal Services defended the decision to shelter the dogs on-site, saying their vet had checked them out and that the dogs were in okay shape.
"They had food, they had water," said Shumate.
But on Monday, after Romeo moved 17 more dogs onto the property, Animal Services decided the situation was spiraling out of control and decided to remove as many dogs as possible. Romeo will be able to keep 10 as personal pets.
Lucille Maier, who runs another rescue, came to Sleepy Hollow in order to help the dogs. She wound up taking custody of a large pit bull mix.
"It's just what I've seen and the love of the animals," Maier said of her motivation. "They need to be loved, and he's a lover and he needs a good home."
And because the Pasco Animal Shelter is crowded already, Shumate said he continues to need the help of rescue groups to take the dogs.
Pasco Code enforcement officials were also back on the property on Monday. It's unknown if Romeo will face any violations. Last week, a code enforcement report indicated that the house was also strewn with dog feces, and because this is a hoarding situation, a county social worker was also on the scene Monday.
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