A Florida couple was arrested and faces felony animal abuse charges after over 100 animals were rescued from their property, according to the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office.
In a post on Facebook, authorities said that Faustino Alfredo Valladares, 66, and Patricia Maria Villadamigo, 46, were arrested on animal cruelty charges in “Operation Rescue Thor,” after a four-month investigation into allegations of neglect.
On July 31, animal control officers began an animal cruelty and neglect investigation at a residence located in Inverness. The couple is alleged to have over 16 dogs, and 40 chickens and turkeys on their property, with the animals suffering from neglect.
Deputies stated that despite minimal cooperation from the couple, all the animals were checked on throughout the duration of the investigation.
Officials also determined that all dogs in the couple’s possession were found to be without current vaccinations, and they did not have a kennel license, which is mandated by county ordinance with ownership of 10 or more dogs.
During the investigation, deputies say Thor, a 7-year-old German Shepherd, was found showing signs of pain and suffering from a severe ear infection and issues with his hips. Despite being issued a citation and a 24-hour mandate to be treated, the sheriff’s office reported the couple refused to provide treatment for Thor.
Detectives then assisted animal control officers in obtaining arrest warrants for both Valladares and Villadamigo for one count of felony animal cruelty each. A search warrant was also obtained and served last week to rescue Thor from the property, so he could receive proper treatment, according to the sheriff’s office.
During the search of the property, deputies said 18 dogs, 11 puppies, and 73 varying species of fowl, one of which was deceased, were located on the property.
All animals were surrendered by Villadamigo and Valladares, and given to Citrus County Animal Services, where officials said veterinary forensics and treatment will continue for all rescued animals.
“Our ACOs work tirelessly to help defend innocent animals, such as Thor, whom irresponsible owners mistreat. It is sickening to see how Villadamigo and Valladares had such disregard for taking care of their animals,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. “I am proud of the quick investigative work of both our ACOs and Community Crimes Detectives, as well as our partnership with Citrus County Animal Services for their assistance in saving these helpless animals.”