Searching for missing baby, police find hundreds of animals in home
Pinellas County deputies answering a call about a missing child found dozens of abused exotic reptiles at an Oldsmar home and arrested two people living there. Jeffrey O. O'Neil, 28, and Jennifer E. Kovacs, 26, were booked into the Pinellas jail on one charge of child abuse. They also face charges of animal cruelty, the sheriff's office said in a news release. The couple had called authorities to report that a 16-month-old girl for whom they were caring had crawled out of a crib and out the door of their home at 206 Lee St., the sheriff's office said. But deputies found a note at the home from a relative who had come and taken the child after finding O'Neil passed out drunk, the sheriff's office said. O'Neil and Kovacs were intoxicated when deputies answered the 6 a.m. call, the sheriff's office said.The local SPCA is in the process of removing the animals. The sheriff's office provided a list of the ones recovered so far: seven Burmese pythons, 20 unidentified snakes, seven monitor lizards, about 100 bearded dragons and two dead scorpion spiders, along with rabbits, guinea pigs, squirrels, hamsters, gerbils, hedgehogs and finches. Some types of monitor lizards kept as pets can grow as long as 5 feet. Deputies say three rats and a hamster were found dead and half consumed by other animals in the house. The animals were kept outside and throughout the home, some of them in the 88 cages found on the property. Stay with TBO.com for updates.