Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

45 Dogs Seized from Homes | Scars and Equipment Suggestive of Fighting and Gambling Operation

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

45 Dogs Seized from Homes | Scars and Equipment Suggestive of Fighting and Gambling Operation

Article excerpt

MANATEE COUNTY

MANATEE COUNTY -- Authorities have confiscated 45 dogs believed to have been abused in a "fighting-gambling" case under investigation by the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

Not since the 2014 raid on Napier Log Cabin Horse and Animal Sanctuary, which resulted in the confiscation of roughly 300 animals and the conviction on animal cruelty charges of Alan and Sheree Napier, have Manatee investigators seen such an extent of alleged abuse and neglect involving so many animals.

The county has filed a court petition against Robert Reyes, his wife Elizabeth Reyes and Maria Jazo asking for a judge to determine whether the dogs should be "sold or remanded to the custody" of Manatee County Animal Services" if the three respondents are deemed "unfit" to get the animals back.

A hearing about the petition and the dogs' fate is scheduled before County Judge Doug Henderson on July 21.

Impounding of the dogs caused overcrowding at the Animal Services

shelter in Palmetto, prompting that agency to make an appeal to the public to take home dogs that are available for adoption. Commissioner Carol Whitmore said that, as of Tuesday, 171 dogs were in kennels built to accommodate 80.

Sheriff's Office spokesman Dave Bristow said no criminal charges related to the alleged abuse and neglect have been filed but that the investigation is ongoing.

Robert Reyes, 41, and Elizabeth Reyes, 36, are already in the county jail on narcotics charges. Sheriff's detectives arrested Robert Reyes on June 14 on a charge of trafficking in heroin. They arrested Elizabeth Reyes on June 16 on a charge of trafficking in heroin and later added charges of possession of cocaine and possession of suboxone, a drug to treat opiate addiction.

Jazo, owner of a property listed as the Reyes' home address on arrest records, could not be reached for comment. In 2011, she paid a $300 non-criminal penalty after being cited for inhumane treatment of an animal.

According to a court record, Animal Services determined that Jazo "could not provide proof of vet care for a dog with a severe skin issue" that caused it to lose hair. …

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