Brooksville, Florida- A Pasco County woman, who Hernando Sheriff's deputies say abandoned 53 animals inside a U-Haul, is arrested and charged with 53 counts animal abuse.

Hernando Sheriff's deputies found the truck parked in a Publix parking lot in Spring Hill shortly after, deputies said, Francis Terry Evans dropped it off.

But the news is not good for many of the animals found in the truck. According to reports, all three of the dogs survived, but 39 of the 50 cats had to beeuthanized- somethingPasco County Code Enforcement officials said could have been prevented if their owner had given the animals up sooner.

"It's heartbreaking for the staff here. It's heartbreaking to see it happen- animals brought in those conditions," said Brenda Frazier, a Hernando County spokesperson.

Officials at the scene found the 50 cats stuffed in plastic storage containers inside the U-Haul parked in the rear of the grocery store lot. The three dogs were found in their crates.

"The cats were underweight, had eye conditions and parasite conditions. The managing vet was concerned for the infection of the rest of the kennel facility," Frazier said. "Their health condition was so compromised, she felt they were beyond repair."

This case began in Pasco County back in September when, according to Pasco Code Enforcement officers, they warned the animals' owner Frances Terry Evans of a zoning violation.

Carol Clarke, the zoning administrator for Pasco County Code Enforcement, told 10 News the maximum number of animals allowed in a home is nine, and Evans had 53.

Then in February, a judge gave Evans three months to resolve the problem- her deadline was this past Tuesday.

According to Clarke, someone tipped off officials, saying Evans would likely try to find a loophole.

"We received a tip her plan was to move the animals from her home until we came to inspect; then she'd return the animals after we were gone," she explained.

So a Code Enforcement officer followed Evans, and watched as she left the U-Haul in the Publix parking lot. That's when Hernando Sheriff's deputies checked inside, and found the animals in such critical condition.

"Our officer saw one cat in the cab and heard animals in the back," said Clarke before adding, "She's ultimately responsible in my view."

Deputies arrested and charged Evans with 53 counts of animal abuse.

Hernando Animal Services Officials have said the three dogs will be ready for adoption in 24 hours, but the cats will need some more time.

Follow 10 News Reporter Isabel Mascarenas on twitter @IzzyMascarenas

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