Former Manatee County animal shelter operator files for bankruptcy

skennedy@bradenton.comFebruary 19, 2014 

A horse grazes in a pasture off Wingate Road, one of two additional properties owned by Alan and Sheree Napier, owners of Napier's Log Cabin Horse and Animal Rescue which was raided by law enforcement agencies earlier this month. TIFFANY TOMPKINS-CONDIE/Bradenton Herald

TTOMPKINS@BRADENTON.COM Buy Photo

MANATEE -- A foreclosure sale on property owned by Sheree and Alan Napier, whose animal rescue facility in east Manatee County was raided by authorities, was canceled Tuesday after Sheree Napier filed for bankruptcy, court papers said.

She sought Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection Friday, court records showed. The court file listed a number of other Napier bankruptcy filings, all dismissed, dating to 2001.

The online foreclosure sale had been slated for 11 a.m. Tuesday. The mortgage foreclosure case, filed in 2011, listed a judgment amount of $660,205 in court papers.

The listed plaintiff in the case is Bayview Loan Servicing LLC. Listed defendants are Alan S. and Sheree L. Napier, Napier's Log Cabin Horse & Animal Sanctuary Inc., Bellissimo Properties LLC II and Equitylink Inc.

In other court matters,

Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube filed a petition Friday seeking custody of hundreds of animals seized at the Napier's farm Feb. 5 and on later occasions.

A hearing on the petition was set for 1:30 p.m. March 12 at the Manatee County Judicial Center, according to court papers.

The petition states the Napiers "are not able to provide adequately for the animals and/or are not fit to have custody."

It asked their rights to be "forever terminated," and all animals be turned over to the sheriff or other rescue organizations.

It also sought an order holding the Napiers responsible for costs incurred in caring for the animals while in the sheriff's custody.

The Napiers' attorney, Peter Lombardo, said Tuesday he had not yet seen the sheriff's court filing, but added: "It's kind of what I was expecting."

"We're obviously objecting to it," Lombardo said. "It wasn't the Napier's idea for the sheriff to take those animals from the Napiers."

"Every animal had access to a vet," he said. "We would say that the Napiers are absolutely able to care for those animals."

Without knowing the condition in which the animals arrived at the Napier's farm: "It's really impossible to be critical," Lombardo said.

The couple are innocent of wrongdoing, Lombardo has previously said.

No criminal charges have been filed, but the sheriff's office has said it is investigating possible animal abuse and fraud at the couple's shelter.

Property and evidence records accompanying the sheriff's petition listed the type of case as "cruelty to animals."

One page listed 20 decomposed corpses of dogs and cats and 12 "unknown bone fragments."

Other pages listed live horses, dogs, cats, goats, pigs, ducks and chickens.

At Honor Animal Rescue, more than half of the 81 animals taken in from Napier have been placed in foster homes, according to Karen Slomba, associate director.

"They are doing well," Slomba said. "They are slowly but surely recovering."

Several dogs have been discovered to be pregnant, and they suspect some cats are as well. None of the animals have been neutered or spayed however.

"We are not allowed until custody is granted so we just have to keep them separate," Slomba said.

Some animals need continued medical attention as they are suffering from heartworm disease, eye infections and other ailments. Two dogs required emergency surgery.

Much-needed volunteers and donations have continued to come in, she said.

"The community continues to be supportive every day," Slomba said.

Jessica De Leon, Herald reporter, contributed to this report.

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