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News Section: Law Enforcement

No Charges for County Staff in Animal Abuse Case

Published Wednesday, August 6, 2014 12:06 am

BRADENTON – The Manatee County Sheriff's Office says it has not found sufficient evidence to file criminal charges against employees of the Manatee County Animal Services Division for their role with the animal cruelty case against the Napier's Log Cabin Horse and Animal Sanctuary.

A 484-page report issued Monday detailed horrendous conditions in terms of sanitation and adequate food and water, as well as questionable calls by the department regarding complaints, but said not enough probable cause was found to submit charges against any one individual at the county.

According to the report summary, Manatee County placed 135 cats and 151 dogs at Napier's dating back to 2007. Thirty-nine complaints about the facility were filed with the Animal Services Division during that time. Of 20 email complaints, only 4 were followed up by an animal services.

The summary noted that MCSO visited the facility in 2004 and that deputies reported the Napier property was "unkempt and dirty" and that some horses did not have food and water.

The report notes that in 2007, county animal services employees declared the animals to be in good health, but ordered the facility to clean up for sanitary reasons.

In 2009, Hillsborough County Animal Services, who also transferred some of its animals to Napier's, inspected the facility and documented poor sanitation, strong odor of ammonia/urine and feces, excessive fleas, and skin conditions among numerous dogs.

The agency reported the findings to Manatee County Animal Services, but the summary report notes that there was no documentation of follow-up by Manatee, who unlike Hillsborough, continued sending animals to the facility.

MCSO began investigating county staff when complaints mounted during its investigation of the east county shelter after a raid. Through its investigation, the MCSO says it found that "the burden of probable cause has not been reached to submit criminal charges on any one individual at Manatee County Animal Services with regards to Florida Statutes for official misconduct of neglect, malfeasance or misfeasance."

The private shelter has since been closed with more than 300 animals were confiscated from the grounds, many of which had to be put down. Alan Napier and wife Sheree were charged with animal cruelty and fraud but have plead not guilty and vowed to reopen when and if it were possible.

Click here for a PDF of the MCSO summary report regarding the investigation into Manatee County Animal Services.


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