Polk couple face drug, animal cruelty charges
Polk County deputies, searching the home of an Auburndale couple for possible drug activity, said they found 47 dogs living there in deplorable conditions. Deputies responding to the home at 3921 Owens Road on Friday said they were granted permission to search the property by resident Randall Keith Huggins, 49, after telling him they received information about possible drug activity. While waiting on Huggins to secure loose dogs seen on the property, deputies were approached by Bernice Mae Walskey, 55, who also denied having drugs on the property. A K-9 unit detected the odor of narcotics in Walskey’s Ford Escape, and deputies said a search yielded two large bags of a green leafy material identified as herbal alternatives to marijuana, as well as items used for packing and distributing illegal drugs.While in the house, deputies found 47 dogs on the property, confined to cages stacked atop each other, investigators said. Deputies said the dogs were living in deplorable conditions, with no food or water and a strong odor of feces and urine. Many of the dogs showed signs of malnutrition, skin conditions and fleas, deputies said. During the course of the drug investigation, deputies also found 14 pounds of a green herb and several bags of chemicals commonly used to produce synthetic marijuana. The animals were seized and were being examined, deputies said. Huggins was jailed on 40 counts of animal cruelty, deputies said. Walskey faces 40 counts of animal cruelty and three drug charges. She was released Friday on bond.