ENGLEWOOD — Leslie Taylor checked on a house for a friend who had been hospitalized Tuesday, and found dozens of animals covered in filth, neglected and an overwhelming stench inside from animal waste.
“I came to help and I walked into this,” Taylor said.
Taylor said she knew her friend had a lot of pets, but not the 30-plus animals authorities found Tuesday at the house on Kilbourne Avenue.
At least 23 cats, seven dogs and three cockatiels were rescued by EARS Animal Rescue Sanctuary. Some fish, birds and rodents that already had died were removed from the house. Sarasota County Animal Control was on the scene.
“She didn’t have as much (pets) as when I last stepped in (about a year ago),” Taylor said. “I saw what it became, and I just want what’s best for her.”
EARS came to rescue the animals when it heard about the conditions from Taylor.
The owner of the home is an elderly woman who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and is being treated at Englewood Community Hospital, according to EARS board member Bobbi Austin.
“There were about 30 animals not spayed or neutered,” said Deva Ballantyne, adoptions and store manager at EARS. “This will cost thousands of dollars for us to help properly treat these animals.”
EARS found a variety of dogs at the property, including five bichon frise mixes, one Chihuahua mix and a Pomeranian. They also found domestic short hair and medium-hair cats at the house.
The woman also owned cockatiels and an assortment of rodents. The stench was stronger toward the back of the house, where authorities found a dead cockatiel, a dead rat, and a dead guinea pig and other rodents among the filth from animal waste and discarded trash. Some of the animals had been dead for several weeks, Ballantyne said.
Some of the animals were emaciated when found. Ballantyne said there had been no food in the house for weeks.
“One elderly cat will have to stay with us for the remainder of its life,” Ballantyne said.
EARS, a no-kill shelter, has been working with the woman to place all the animals in its care for some time, Ballantyne said. The woman frequented EARS. No one suspected the problem was this bad, Ballantyne said.
If the live animals had been taken by Sarasota County Animal Control, they would be euthanized within days, Ballantyne said.
Ballantyne said Animal Control was at the house last week and didn’t do anything.
Sarasota County Animal Control referred the Sun to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, which declined to comment Tuesday.
“(The woman is) breathing through tubes, and she’s saying she’ll be home in a week,” Ballantyne said. “If the hospital saw the state of her home, I don’t think they would release her there. The place wasn’t livable for animal or human.”
EARS is working with Loving Care Animal Hospital to provide treatment for the animals, and Ballantyne predicts the cost of care could exceed $10,000.
To adopt any of the rescued animals or for more information, go to http://www.ears4life.com or call 941-475-0636. EARS is located at 145 W. Dearborn St., Englewood.