Donated food helping Polk County feed 261 seized dogs
WINTER HAVEN - Officials are getting help from around the Tampa Bay area to help feed the 261 dogs they seized from dirty, crowded conditions at a Polk City home. Dennis Homol, a local volunteer with Save our Homeless Pets, brought an SUV packed with donated food today to the Polk County Animal Control shelter. He estimated there was about 1,500 to 2,000 pounds of food in the shipment. The donations came from all over the area in a drive coordinated by an organization called Cat Call, he said. Word circulated through Facebook and MySpace, he said. More help is needed, he said."I mean you're talking 261 dogs. We don't know when the court outcome is going to come. I really don't know what all of that's going to be, but until they're all adopted out this is more than what they can handle here," Homol said. Polk Sheriff Grady Judd said each dog is eating about a pound of food a day, so all the help is appreciated. "You think about that. That's 260 pounds of food a day in addition to our normal business," he said. Judd hopes other shelters in the area will help house the animals until they can be put up for adoption. They can't be adopted out until it's cleared by the courts, he said. "We are going to move this 261 dogs as quickly as we can through the system so we can put them up for adoption as well, but first we have a court proceeding. We immediately filed the paperwork for that court proceeding last Friday, and we're waiting on the date and the court availability, but what's important to know is that we'll do our best not to euthanize any extra animals. "Our goal one day is to never euthanize an animal, but quite frankly irresponsible pet ownership puts us in this position, and we're doing everything we can to adopt out as many animals as possible," he said. The dogs, including 35 puppies, were seized Thursday at the home of Diane and Charles O'Malley, who ran the Mid-Florida Retriever Rescue out of their house at 15195 Angus Road. The O'Malley residence had a strong smell of urine and feces, and deputies had to wear gas masks while removing the animals, officials said. The breeds include Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, Labrador mixes, great Danes, cattle dogs, Sharpei, Dalmatians, shepherd mixes, bulldogs and Belgian malinois. The dogs had the run of the O'Malleys' 3,000-square-foot home and 5-acre property. They were found in closets, bathrooms, bedrooms, porches and the kitchen, deputies said. Each O'Malley was each charged with 261 counts of animal cruelty, deputies have said. The 54-year-old husband and 52-year-old wife were freed Saturday from Polk County Jail on pretrial release. Homol said he believes the O'Malleys just got in over their heads "Standing back I'm seeing it was more than they could handle. They didn't ask for help," Homol said. "The help is out there. Obviously we just showed the help is out there. If they would have put the word out there like what just happened people would have you know sent them food, would have been helping them."