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Riverview man facing 80 charges in hoarding case

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image This cat is one of the 82 rescued from a Riverview trailer that now needs a home. Photo Hillsborough County Animal Services.

Homes needed for cats found in ‘deplorable’ conditions

By Kevin Brady
 
Homes are urgently needed for a family of 82 cats found living in a Riverview trailer park earlier this month.

An anonymous complaint brought Hillsborough County Animal Services to the home at 10602 3rd St. in Riverview earlier this month where the cats where found living in “deplorable conditions.” The trailer has since been condemned.

The trailer’s owner, Eric Holmes, is facing two misdemeanor animal cruelty charges and 82 misdemeanor improper confinement charges, according to Pam Perry, Hillsborough County Animal Services investigations manager.

Riverview’s Ian Hallett, director of Animal Services, where the cats are being held, knows all about such cases.

“In hoarding cases the person often cares very much for the animals unlike giant animal warehouses or dog fighting but you can quickly go from two cats to 80 in just a couple of years. They are just unable to seek help or recognize when they have too many animals,” Hallett said.

All of the cats were brought to Animal Services in Brandon where they were treated by county veterinarians. Most of the animals were in good health but two of the cats were in so much pain they had to be humanely euthanized, officials said. An additional five cats tested positive for feline leukemia and had to be euthanized.

Despite the conditions of the trailer the kittens were in surprisingly good condition, according to Hallett.

“They have been bathed and cleaned up and they do not have the usual upper respiratory infections.

Despite the publicity surrounding the case, no one has called to adopt any of the cats yet,” said Hallett who has worked in animal services for eight years.

“They are a little shy right now but once you take them out of the cages and pet them they start purring and roll over. It’s hard for them to come out of their shells in the shelter but once they go to a home they will become social.”

Animal Services impounded 21,926 animals between Feb. 1, 2012 and Jan. 31 this year, according to county records. Of those, 10,635 were cats while 9,967 were dogs. Of those, more than 8,300 were adopted. The agency also responded to 25,055 calls during that time, with 10,857 violations cited.

Signs of animal neglect which are also worthy of reporting include:

• Abandonment of an animal

• Clearly visible wounds, protruding bones, skin issues

• Lack of veterinary medical care

• Lack of clean water, wholesome food, and proper shelter from the elements

Tips and information are followed up by trained investigators who determine the course of action to correct a problem and/or seek accountability. Civil citations and fines may be issued, or criminal charges may be filed for prosecution by the State Attorney’s Office. Persons convicted of animal cruelty face a fine from $5,000 to $10,000, up to five years in jail, or both.

To report animal neglect and cruelty or adopt an animal, contact Hillsborough County Animal Services at 813-744-5660 or email info@hillsboroughcounty.org.

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